By CHIOMA OBINNA
President Goodluck Jonathan has been called upon to urgently review the scope of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, even as Community pharmacists have recommended appointment of a substantive Executive Secretary of the NHIS.

Making the call, National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Pharm. Olufemi Adebayo lamented lack of action over the years to address agitation by stakeholders on functionality of the Scheme.

“We urge President Jonathan to hasten appointment of the substantive Executive Secretary as this will go a long way in effective running of the scheme.

In appointing the ES, Adebayo who spoke at a press briefing in Lagos to herald its Annual National Conference billed to hold between 3rd through 7th of June, 2013 in Calabar with the theme: “Safe medicines for Nigerians: Community Pharmacists Perspective”, said the President should provide a level playing ground for all professional associations in the health sector in order to ensure that a good leader emerges.

“Community pharmacists registered with the Scheme generally have not been receiving reasonable volume of prescriptions from primary healthcare providers due the problem of global capitation currently used to pay secondary providers under the Scheme.

Adebayo said the Scheme would have afforded opportunity to many Nigerians to have access to quality healthcare.

He spoke while highlighting the Association’s Annual National Conference coming up in Calabar with the theme: “Safe medicines for Nigerians: Community Pharmacists Perspective”.

He further alleged that pharmacies under the programme are seriously surcharged by medical doctors who are the primary providers and are responsible for the payment of the secondary providers like the pharmacists, physiotherapists amongst others.

“Pharmacists belong to secondary providers, initially, the secondary providers supposed to be paid under ‘fee- for -service’ that is, whatever drugs they prescribe for the month, the Healthcare Management Organisation, HMO, will pay the secondary healthcare providers but overnight the table turned.

By virtue of that, community pharmacists are being surcharged seriously, prescriptions are not coming from healthcare providers, the doctors are prescribing and dispensing at the same time. No one can guarantee the quality of drugs that are being prescribed. There is no longer check and balance in the system. Complete professionalism that supposed to come into play if NHIS is properly executed is no longer there because they doctors are holding tight whatever they are being given.”

Speaking, Lagos State Chairman, ACPN, Pharm. Mr. Aminu-Abdulsalam Yinka regretted that 70 percent of drugs in circulation are in the hands of what he, described as ‘charlatans’. He stressed the need for the country to correct the current chaotic drug distribution in the country.

Also speaking, Immediate Lagos State Past Chairman, Pharm. Felix Anienh while commending the Federal Government for launching National Drug Distribution Guidelines urged them to further ensure implementation to ensure sanity into drug distribution in Nigeria.

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