By Joseph Erunke, Abuja
The federal government has challenged consultant pharmacists to dig deep into research and development as well as cutting edge skills consistent with international standards with a view to improving healthcare delivery in the country.
The government said it recognized that pharmacists were key to achieving the goals and objectives of the strategic health sector reform in Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Alhaji Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi, said this Tuesday while declaring open a sensitization workshop to kickstart the implementation of the Pharmacists Consultant Cadre within the healthcare system in Nigeria.
“It must be emphasised at this juncture that research and development must be key, cutting edge skills that are of international standards must be key and must be consistent during the training”, he charged participants at the event.
Noting that the event “marks a seismic change in the evolution of the Pharmacy profession and the provision of pharmaceutical care in the healthcare delivery system in the country”, Abdullahi explained, “the creation of the Consultant Pharmacists Cadre by the National Council on Establishment (NCE) is part of the overall effort of the Government to reposition the Pharmacy Profession for the provision of more improved and quality healthcare services to the people.”
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“It is also hoped that this will stem the tide of brain drain to other parts of the world in search of specialization and better remuneration,”he said.
The Permanent Secretary also explained that “the creation of the Consultant Cadre for Pharmacists in Civil Public Service in Nigeria was based on well-coordinated government processes and procedures.”
“For the recognition of the need to improve the Pharmacists Practice in Nigeria, the NCE granted the approval for the inclusion of the Pharmacists Consultant Cadre in the Civil/Public Service,” he added.
He spoke further: “The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) on its part had since 22nd September 2015, directed all its Departments and Parastatals/Agencies to recognize and accept the students of the West African College of Pharmacists (WACP) for Residency Programme and provide necessary assistance to make the Programme a success. This is in line to develop the requisite manpower needed to feed the newly created Cadre.
“For the implementation of the approved scheme, the FMoH liaise with the National Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission to include Consultant Pharmacists in the specialist’s allowance for consultant healthcare professionals. The salary structure for the Consultant Pharmacists Cadre is therefore contained as the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) 13 – 15, which is the equivalent of the Salary Grade Level (SGL) 15 – 17.
“The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, being the Agency of Government charged with responsibility among others, of regulating and controlling Pharmacy education, training and practice in all aspects and ramifications, must ensure to justify the confidence reposed on it for the appropriate implementation of this scheme.
“Accordingly, sensitization workshops such as this, all across the country, should provide a platform for increased awareness on what the Government expects from Consultant Pharmacists and ensure consistency in the implementation of the Cadre as the scheme of service comes to effect.
“Pharmacists on their part must dig deep to justify this huge investment embarked upon by the Government in spite of its lean financial resources worsened by the global COVID-19 pandemic that has led to economic recession across the world.”
According to him, “the Federal Ministry of Health firmly believes the implementation of the new Consultant Pharmacists Cadre will no doubt ensure availability of specialized and highly skilled manpower in Pharmacy practice in Nigeria and would as part of general efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Next Level Agenda, encourage Pharmacists in Civil/Public service as well as stem medical tourism.
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“However, it must be emphasised at this juncture that research and development must be key, cutting edge skills that are of international standard must be key and must be consistent during the training.
“The assurance of cross and professional harmony and understanding; being leaders, they must be able to understand that there must be harmony. The healthcare system is teamwork. This is imperative and key and cannot be overemphasized.”
In his welcome address,the Registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria,Elijah Mohammed, explained that the event would kick-start a series of zonal sensitization workshops targeted at Consultant Pharmacists, in order to familiarize them with the newly approved cadre as well as the attendant responsibilities.
According to him,” Pharmacists have been equipped with vast skills set which are yet to be fully deployed to achieve the desired result.”
“I am confident that with this new cadre, there would be abundant opportunities to deploy every skill set acquired during the consultancy training and to enable pharmacists to bring their specialized knowledge to bear on the healthcare system in Nigeria,” he said.
While commending the spirit of pharmacy professionals in Nigeria, Mohammed assured stakeholders of the commitment of PCN to provide the needed environment for good consultancy practice.
“This is why the Council is collaborating with the Nigeria Chapter of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists on these sensitization workshops so that the Fellows that have assumed the Consultant status would benefit.
“The journey to achieving this well-deserved recognition has been arduous, challenging, uphill but rewarding. It therefore behooves on practitioners to prove that this cadre is expedient for the progress and future of pharmacy in Nigeria,”he said.