By Gabriel Olawale
THE National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, has identified misinformation as one of the key factors responsible for low uptake of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria even as the country begins to witness increase in figure of new cases.
Speaking during the 41st Annual Scientific Conference of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Executive Director & CEO of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the bulk of the country’s challenges was at community level where a huge population are misinformed, thereby making people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
Shuaib said that over 26 million people have been fully vaccinated which represents 23.4 percent of the eligible population,
“Currently, our data shows that 26,127,761 eligible persons have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Nigeria, having received the second dose of vaccine. The number of fully vaccinated persons represents 23.4 percent of the 111,176,503 eligible population targeted for full vaccination against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
Shuaib who was represented by the South West Zonal Director of the Agency, Dr. Adefunke Adesope said that the COVID-19 crises provided opportunities to improve routine immunisation and at the same time opened doors for more health professionals to be fully integrated in PHC service delivery.
Speaking on the theme, “Never Waste a Crisis: Community Pharmacists Learning for Future Preparedness”, he tasked the ACPN to mobilise its members to rapidly increase the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines in the communities by leveraging on their influence.
The National Chairman of ACPN, Pharm. Adewale Oladigbolu said with support from New Heights Pharmaceutical, they have produced documentation kits for community pharmacists.
“The kit consists of a prescription pad, a referral pad and booklet on the interpretation of laboratory parameters. These has been distributed to all community pharmacists across the country.”
Oladigbolu said the Association started a supply chain platform that interconnects all pharmaceutical entities in Nigeria.
“We now have a bespoke inventory control software for community pharmacists. We therefore implore the government to include pharmacists in anything that has to do with the health of the society; as Primary Healthcare providers, in the National Health Insurance Scheme and by signing the new Pharmacy Bill.
This will go a long way to engender a healthier nation.”
The National President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Prof. Cyril Usifoh noted: “Not only have pharmacists played their traditional role of delivering medications to patients, but they also performed additional duties regarding patient education and triaging of patients to reduce the load on hospitals as well as screening for diseases and promoting clear treatment concepts regarding this disease.”
On his part, a member of the Federal House of Representatives, Pharm Gboluga Ikengboju, said the legislature was ready to support the Association perform its role towards a better society.
“We are going to support community pharmacists to improve on healthcare delivery system and to be engage more in advance services. We are going to support you in promoting adequate training and technological support.
“We will push to see government commitment to 2015 Abuja arrangement of 15 percent of budgetary allocation to healthcare system. We are also going to push for every Community Pharmacists to be paid for providing essential services through NHIS.”