Pharmacists, under the umbrella of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and Association of Hospital and Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) have bemoaned the current pattern in the management of COVID-19 patients in isolation centres across the country, in which only one or two pharmacists are assigned to be at each centre.
The pharmacists lamented that other health workers in isolation centres far outnumber frontline pharmacists, stressing that this does not reflect a balanced healthcare delivery approach.
The PSN President, Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa; the National Chairman, AHAPN, Dr Kingsley Amibor; the National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) Pharm. Samuel Adekola and others condemned the situation, while calling on both the federal and the state governments to correct the anomaly for better patients output.
Speaking at the Nigerian Journal of Pharmacy webinar held recently, the pharmacy leaders also emphasised the need for the provision of adequate masks for frontline pharmacists by governments, saying that only very few institutions provided N95 face masks for pharmacists,
They further added that while some pharmacists were given medical/surgical masks, others only received fabric face masks, which cannot protect them against the highly contagious virus.
In his presentation titled, ‘’Protecting pharmacists at the frontline”, Amibor stressed the need to protect healthcare professionals at the frontline, as he reeled out the number of health workers that have been infected since the onset of the pandemic in Nigeria, saying a total of 1540 health workers have been infected, including 11 hospital pharmacists, as at 10 July 2020.
He further highlighted fatalities recorded among health workers so far, noting that one pharmacist and 10 medical doctors have been lost to the deadly virus.
Amibor said: ‘’Looking at the COVID-19 current statistics as at 10 July 2020, there are over 12 million confirmed cases in 196 countries, 555,036 deaths worldwide, while Nigeria has 31,987 confirmed cases, including 1540 infected healthcare workers, among whom were 11 hospital pharmacists with one dead pharmacist and 10 dead medical doctors”.
He also listed the roles of pharmacists in a pandemic in order to enlighten the public on the responsibilities of pharmacists to citizens at such a critical time as this.
Some of the highlighted roles of pharmacists include: “Ensuring adequate supply of relevant medicines, collaborating with other healthcare professionals in providing patient care and support, promoting hospital prevention and infection control, patient education and counselling, educating healthcare workers on how to wear their masks appropriately, pharmacovigilance, and monitoring treatment outcomes.”
The number one hospital pharmacist in Nigeria also mentioned the need to restructure pharmacy departments to generate enough space for social distancing in future, stating that the present structures of pharmacy departments in hospitals are not conducive for physical distancing, which is not good for pharmacists.
Amibor however berated some pharmacists for deliberately neglecting preventive protocols as provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
‘’Some pharmacists are not making enough interventions to stay alive, by refusing to abide by NCDC/WHO laid down prevention guidelines. Continuous advocacy by PSN, AHAPN and other Pharmacy stakeholders is inevitable to sink home the need for compliance with prevention measures.
‘’For as is commonly said, injury to one is injury to all. The death of any pharmacist is synonymous with the passage of a close family member,” he asserted.