BY CHIOMA OBINNA
The nation’s poor healthcare delivery has been blamed on rising cost, limited financial resources, inefficient health systems as well as the huge burden of diseases.
A renowned pharmacist and Director-General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria,SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, who x-rayed healthcare delivery system in the country, said changing social, technological and economic environment have contributed to creating a burden to effective healthcare delivery.
In his lecture, entitled: “The 21st Century Pharmacy Professional in Healthcare and National Development,” delivered to pharmacy inductees at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Odumodu noted that the mentioned factors have resulted in massive but preventable communicable infective disease profile as well as worsening health conditions.
Other implications of the identified factors he listed include; excessive mortality at younger age, impacting negatively on average life expectancy, staggering health inequalities and disparities among different groups as well as high mortality rate among poor people from treatable avoidable ailments.
According to him:“ Generally, healthcare services are fragmented skewed in distribution, limited in coverage and of poor quality.”
Odumodu regretted that the dearth of resources and referral systems are weak and have reflected in one million children and 385,000 women dying every year – the highest in the world.
Stating that the situation has also affected local pharmaceutical manufacture, he said: “Pharmaceutical manufacture has been consistently losing shares in our local markets, accounting for less than 20 per cent of domestic consumption, life expectancy at birth average 47 years, six years lower than the 53 years average for the least developed countries.”
Affirming that these challenges – both to access to medicines of assured quality and to their rational use – underscores the urgency of the need for health sector reform, he added: “We require a paradigm shift in pharmacy practice in pharmaceutical care, rational medicines use and effective medicines supply management as these are key components of an accessible, sustainable, affordable and equitable healthcare system which ensures the efficacy, safety and quality of medicines.”
Odumodu said the concept of pharmaceutical care is the responsible provision of drug therapy for achieving definite outcomes that improve or maintain patient’s quality of life, and that to fulfil this obligation, the pharmacist needs to be able to assume different functions. “Above all, the 21st century pharmacy professional must be computer literate to be able to perform, among other things, e-prescribing, e-dispensing, drug information services using the internet, tele-pharmacy, pharmacy informatics, pharmacoeconomics and operation research.”
On the qualities of the 21st century pharmacist should be, Odumodu said he should be dependable, conscientious , good with details; willing to check and double-check his own work; ready to collaborate with others on the healthcare team; ethical; scrupulous in handling, storing and dispensing dangerous and habit-forming substances; able to use facts and good judgment when responding to inquiries and also excited about science.
He said anyone seeking to become a pharmacist should be willing to learn, able to maintain records and understand management principles, able to enjoy meetings and working with new people and above all willing to serve.