By Chioma Obinna
Pharmacists under the auspices of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, have called for equity in appointments in the health sector, blaming the poor health system on what they described as ‘greed and avarice.
The pharmacists alleged that greed on the part of the professional group in the sector has continued to encourage the inequitable spread of privileges and resources of players in the sector to the detriment of consumers of health.
In a press statement made available to Good Health Weekly and tagged: “We Must Save the Health System in Our Country Now” and jointly signed by the National Chairman, Dr. Samuel Adekola, and the National Secretary, Pharm. Ambrose Ezeh noted that consumers of health had been short-changed by the Government and providers.
They expressed fears that despite the fact that the goals and objectives of both the National Health Policy and National Drug Policy which focuses on accessibility, affordability, safe and efficacious health care services, and credible drug supply system may never be.
Identifying what they described as the ’glaring ineptitude’ in the health system, they pointed out that against the international best practice that hinges on the philosophy of meritocracy which allows for selection base on merit and competencies, it was unfortunate that Nigeria physicians and their umbrella body have blackmailed successive governments at the Federal and many States levels to continue to insist that appointments for a Minister and Commissioners for Health as well as those of Permanent Secretaries remain the birthright of Physicians.
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They lamented that the scenario was the same with all appointments into the MDAs at Federal and State levels with deleterious consequences on Public Health output in Nigeria.
They stressed the need to have appointments in Nigeria’s health sector liberalised to give room for meritocracy.
“It should interest observers that all appointments into prime MDAs in Health sector for instance; NHIS, NPHCDA, NACA, NCDC, Essential Drug List Committee and all special Health intervention programmes including National Malaria Control, Tuberculosis Control, Leprosy Control, etc are dominated by physicians in Nigeria, including heads of all public hospitals at both State and Federal level. whereas, at the international fora and other saner climes, positions of leadership are based purely on merit, skill, and competencies.
They lamented that the Decree 10 of 1985 reversed the gains of the fruitful headship of Health Administrators in Federal Health Institutions and replaced same with the headship of Physicians as Chief Medical Directors, Medical Directors, Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, Head of Clinical Services and they are numerous deputies in all Health Institutions across the board at State and Federal Levels.
“The domination is extended to even appointments into the Boards of Management of the various Federal Health Institutions where about 8 out of 13 slots are permanently reserved for physicians at the detriment of consumers of health.
“Today as it stands when these serial violations failed with the implementation of the Yayale Ahmed Report, the MDCAN has rushed to the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking reliefs to bar the National Assembly from enacting Acts of Parliament to regulate the plethora of health professions in Nigeria, while also praying that the Office of the Head of Civil service of the federation is stopped from drawing up the schemes of service for all cadres of health workers.
The ACPN further listed unethical conducts in task grabbing, alleging a recent attempt by Physicians to annex the statutory and professional responsibilities of pharmacists to dispense medicines legitimately in the Health System.
ACPN further called on other professional bodies to join forces with JOHESU, Civil Rights Societies, and other patriots to form a workable coalition force to save the health system.
They called on all health workers and their leadership to convey a roundtable discourse to strategise on how best to tackle the lingering Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCAN, suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja as well as come up with an agenda for a robust healthcare delivery system in Nigeria in the best interest of the people.