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By Chioma Obinna

 The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, weekend called on the federal government to tackle what it described as rot in the country’s medical practice.

Making the call in a press statement jointly signed by the National Chairman Adewale Oladigbolu and National Secretary, Ambrose Ezeh the association described as hypocritical, a recent statement credited to the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi, calling on regulatory bodies in Health to wake-up to their responsibility of regulating, monitoring, evaluating and punishing the behaviours of their erring members.

Citing Dr. Sanusi’s prescription of disciplinary actions against Medical Officers caught “toying with the lives of their patients by being negligent, corrupt and in some cases, showing gross incompetence while managing their patients,”  they said the MDCN was guilty of ineptitude in enforcing discipline on its erring members.

The statement further reads: “Contrary to the insinuations of the Registrar of the MDCN that it punishes the behaviour of its erring members, we have never seen this happen to bigwigs in the medical profession in Nigeria.

“The ACPN recollects an incident when late President Musa Yar’Adua ordered the EFCC to arrest a sitting Physician-Minister of Health who was accused alongside others of mismanaging unspent funds of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) in the preceding year’s fiscal budget.

“All that the medical professionals offered through the Nigeria Medical Council (NMA) was to regret this development while giving the impression that its members had integrity.”

“Even the umbrella template once produced a leader who frittered away tens of millions donated by the FG under the watch of a military leader through lost deposits in financial institutions. That tragedy was in addition to the careless handling of the Victoria Island property donated to the same group in 1982 by the LASG under the Alhaji Lateef Jakande administration. These are reasons why the “big boys” of the Health Sector do not have a National Secretariat of their own till today.

“Fundamentally, the MDCN in both dispensations of the Physician-Minister and the President of their group never arraigned these persons to the Disciplinary Tribunal of the MDCN, but it claims it punishes erring members.

“A recent systems audit of the civil service by the ICPC confirmed that the MDAs in Health are the most corrupt in the country.  Virtually all the CEOs of the FHIs were seriously indicted for indulgence in sleaze funds in their methodologies.

“In the last few months, there have been hues and cries of outright decapitation of the DRF accounts in virtually all our FHIs which have Physicians regulated by MDCN in charge without the MDCN attempting to seek clarification from any quarter.

The FMoH as at last year had resolved in a memo to the PSN to probe the affairs of the DRF at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, NOH, Igbobi which was singled out in the perversion of the DRF scheme.

 “MDCN in both dispensations of the Physician-Minister and the President of the group never arraigned these persons before the Disciplinary Tribunal of the MDCN, but it claims it punishes erring members.

“The FMoH as at last year had resolved in a memo to the PSN to probe the affairs of the DRF at the NOH, Igbobi which was singled out in the perversion of the DRF scheme. Even when the calls are louder in this direction, how many of these CEO’s, especially the sacred cow at the NOH, Igbobi have been summoned to appear before the Investigating Panel of the MDCN?’’

“It is crystal clear that the half-hearted measures to punish erring physicians are only directed at best at neophyte members or the underdogs, while the real culprits walk away with their booties.”

They added:  “It is imperative we remind the custodian of Medical laws and ethics at MDCN that his physician tribe takes professional oaths at graduation, while those who are privileged to enjoy high profile bureaucratic postings also take administrative oaths in alignment with their leadership positions in the various MDAs. Why has the MDCN not been able to call its very tyrannical hierarchy to order when they refuse to implement Public Service Rules, Government Circulars, directives and related instruments.’’

They faulted  Dr. Sanusi’s reference to Community Pharmacy as becoming centres where patients consult Pharmacists and they obtain medicines thereafter in the Pharmacies,’’ as a glaring deficit knowledge of the Registrar of MDCN.

“There is a National Health Act – 2014 which recognises Pharmacies, Laboratories, Physio-Clinics and others as Health Facilities in Nigeria. That same document allows all registered care providers to have access to patients and their records. A Community Pharmacist who is consulted by a patient for his health and drug needs therefore does not violate any law in Nigeria.

“When it comes to handling drugs on a global basis, the Registrar should understand that drugs are classified as over-the-counter (OTC), Pharmacist Initiated Medicines (PIM), Prescription Only Medicine (POM) and Controlled Drugs.

They said a pharmacist has unhindered liberty to dispense OTC and PIM without liaising with any other practitioner because the scope of his training covers it. The Registrar of MDCN cannot see the aberrations committed by his lawless members who operate in the private sector in particular.

Over 99 per cent of the private hospitals run unregistered pharmacies with no pharmacist to supervise dispensing and counselling of drug-related endeavours contrary to the Poison and Pharmacy Act. The exploitation of patients who sometimes pay over 500 per cent more than the baseline cost of drugs through trickster manoeuvres is one of the planks of survival by private Physicians in Nigeria.

Calling on the federal government to urgently address the anomalies, the duo  added that private hospitals in Nigeria are the centres of unrestricted and unchecked creation of sub-professional cadres in healthcare “because this is where auxiliary nurses, drug dispensing assistants and diagnostic assistants are trained and sometimes certified while the various Private Hospital Registration Authorities and the MDCN look away to protect their Physician brothers.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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