By Chioma Obinna
The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Pharm. Ahmed Yakassai has identified sincerity of purpose, political will and proper funding of drug regulatory agencies as major strategies to check drug abuse in the country.
Yakassai who spoke at the commissioning of the new Secretariat of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, in Lagos noted that the way out of drug abuse is not only to punish abusers but to have proper control of the drug system.
“How do we get these drugs, most of them come through the seaports or land borders. For about nine to 11 years, NAFDAC was removed from all the ports, but of recent, they were asked to return to only the seaports. Still they are not allowed to stay at the land border or at the airport, which means there would still be problem. We need to focus on that angle.
“So if there is political will and honesty with ourselves on issues around corruption and indeed unemployment, especially among our youths,and the enforcement of the laws of the land, we will be able to reduce drug abuse.”
Further, Yakassai lamented poor funding of regulatory organisations such as the PSN, NAFDAC, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, among others, stating that the agencies have no work tools, money or enough manpower. “It is a serious problem.”
Stating that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was coming up with the National Drug Control Bill for inter-agency collaboration, and then the issue of mental health where it can possibly separate psychiatric case from drug abuse problem, he said most drug abusers don’t want to go to the psychiatric hospital because of stigma, hence the need for the Bill.
He called for rehabilitation centres to be set up where vocational trainingwill be established. “There, you are being rehabilitated and learning skills at the same time, be it wood work, electrical, plumbing, and indeed all our religious leaders need to be preaching, this issue of eulogising people of money, while we know they don’t have good character is not good, because our young ones will emulate them.
Stating that all professional bodies and pharmacists have a role to play in reducing drug abuse, he called for implementation of prescription policy, cautioning on the current way drugs are prescribed in the country.
“Also, the National Drug Distribution Guidelines must be implemented by the government by December 31, 2018 as they promised.”
On his part, National Chairman, ACPN, Dr. Albert Alkali said the new secretariat would help improve operations of the ACPN Drug Information Centre as well as enhance coordination and passing of information to the public and their members.