(By Adebayo Oladejo)
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has frowned at the incessant strike actions among medical and health workers in the country, saying it is an indication that the healthcare sector is experiencing a systemic collapse.
President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, expressed his displeasure in an interview with Pharmanews during the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State Branch Day 2013, held at Expressway Primary School, Ketu Lagos.
Akintayo stated that what has continued to amplify the failure in the healthcare sector is the attitude of the Federal Government, especially the Federal Ministry of Health, which according to him, is encouraging the agenda of ‘discriminatory privileges’.
In his words, “I think one of the reasons for the strikes is that the health minister, for some strange reasons, gave a directive to the teaching hospitals that members of other professions cannot be appointed as consultants. Then I began to wonder, if these people have not said they want to be consultant doctors but consultants in their fields, why should anybody stop them from being so? I am a pharmacist and I should have right to be a consultant in my field, likewise every other professional should have the right to run a consultancy.”
Continuing, he said, “I am so sad that the minister of health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has reduced himself to more or less minister of doctors, and he is running that ministry like the ministry of doctors, and that is the bottom line. More than any other administration, we have witnessed persistent paralysis in our healthcare sector; and more than any other leadership of health, we have recorded hiccups in the healthcare sector. The abuses are increasing everyday and under this leadership alone, we have continued to witness unlawful appointments in the regulatory agencies. Also, they have just constituted the board of federal health institutions and there is no single representative of other healthcare professionals appointed in any core teaching and specialist hospitals in Nigeria. In fact, it took a protest to the presidency and secretary to the Federal Government for the health minister to appoint a sprinkle of other professionals in only federal medical centres, and that is the type of healthcare we are running in this country.”
Pharm. Akintayo stated further that the reason the Nigerian health system was rated 187, out of 191,on the recent global health system rating (far below so many war-ravaging African countries)was because we are contending with the issue of only one profession putting up plans and designs for the entire health care sector. “The agenda of suppressing some people and consigning them to ‘house boy’ status is not healthy for our healthcare sector and it would further worsen our situation in the healthcare sector”.
On the position of the PSN on the new emblem for community pharmacists in Nigeria, the PSN boss urged members of the public to always look out for the emblem, as one of the prerequisites for patronising a pharmacist, adding that the pharmacists’ emblem is a regulatory tool of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria and one of the minimum benchmarks. “If you run a retail pharmacy practice in Nigeria, then you must have a pharmacy emblem, so as to guide members of the public to patronise you, as an accredited facility of the PCN,” he said.
Akintayo also appealed to the media people to help orientate the public on the importance of the new emblem. He disclosed that the emblem “is one of the indications that a particular premise is certified by the PCN. Once they see the RX emblem and the number, the first thing they should bear in mind is that that place is certified by PCN and it also endorses whatever goes on in that place. Meanwhile, to be double sure when they walk in to any outlet, they also have the right to ask for the certificate of premises from the pharmacist-in-charge or the superintendent pharmacist.”
The PSN president however urged the Federal Government to act, as a matter of urgency, in reconstituting the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, adding that it had been impossible to apply sanctions for about almost seven years in organised pharmacy. “Because there is no sanction, people have being doing whatever they like. We cannot discipline any erring pharmacist; we cannot discipline any erring pharmacy support staff and we cannot discipline erring pharmacy facilities, because the disciplinary tribunal that is statutorily charged to handle that function is supposed to be headed by the chairman of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria. So, if we don’t have a chairman of pharmacist council, then we cannot do it. It negates our fight against the fake drug syndrome and it is seriously affecting our practice, as pharmacists,” Akintayo said.