By Sola Ogundipe
COALITION of Civil Society Organisations under the aegis, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PSN-PACFaH) has raised alarm over rising cases of diarrhoea and pneumonia among children in Lagos State despite the availability of effective drugs to combat the scourge.
The coalition which made the observation when a team of PSN-PACFaH members led by its chairman, Henry Adenigba paid a courtesy call to the management of Emzor Pharmaceuticals Limited, in Lagos lamented that diarrhoea and pneumonia has continued to lead as killer diseases among children in Lagos state.
The team also called for the promotion of availability, affordability and use of Amoxicillin DT and Zn-LO-ORS in treatment of the disease in Lagos.
In his submission, Adenigba regretted that the two essential drugs approved for use in treating the diseases by the World Health Organisation, WHO, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and Federal Government were not included on the State’s Essential Drugs List.
The Coalition chairman who noted that non inclusion of the medicines has not made prescription by healthcare practitioners mandatory called for immediate inclusion of the drugs on the essential drug list as first line treatment option for diarrhoea and pneumonia diseases in children, adding that their inclusion would reduce deaths from the diseases.
Continuing, Adenigba noted that neonatal causes put at 33 percent, contributes to reasons why children die before their fifth birthday and the combination of diarrhoea and pneumonia at 14 percent and 9 percent respectively has made the profile of childhood deaths more worrisome.
“It is unfortunate that even as the burden of the diseases ranked second and third causes of infant and child mortality in Nigeria, the use of AMX DT and Zn-LO-ORS for its treatment in the country is yet to be mandatory for all healthcare workers in many States to adopt during prescription for clients”..
On the advocacy visit, he noted that among South West states, it is embarrassing that Lagos State which is a fast growing megacity contributes 10 percent and 9 percent of the burden of pneumonia and diarrhoea despite the presence of manufacturers of the approved drugs in the state as well as the economic prosperity of the State.
“For every 100 Children death in Lagos State, Pneumonia and Diarrhoea jointly account for 19 of those deaths.”
Adenigba urged the management of Emzor to increase its detailing activities to front line health care providers which will lead to increased demand and utilization of both Amoxicillin Dispersible Tablet (AMX DT) and co-pack Zinc-Low Osmolarity-ORS.
Speaking, Executive Director- General Duties, Mrs Uzoma Ezeoke hinted that the company has been actively involved in ensuring the availability and affordability of the drugs across the country but the major constraint has been with easy access to foreign exchange for procurement of raw materials.