November 3, 2022

Stop sidelining community pharmacists, ACPN tells physicians

By Chioma Obinna

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, has condemned what it described as “unending political tirades” directed at the profession of pharmacy and community pharmacists by physicians, saying that, community pharmacists remain an unsung hero in the health sector.

Citing a recent alleged statement in an interview granted by the President of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Dr. Uche Ojinmah that some people who claimed to be community pharmacists said they must prescribe, lamented the continuous sidelining of all pharmacists in the country despite their significant contributions towards national development.

Making these revelations in a press statement jointly signed by the Chairman of the ACPN,  Adewale Oladigbolu and the National Secretary of the association, Ambrose Ezeh alleged that the average physician rips off the patient in treatment plan through exploitative billings with drugs.

“It is only in Nigeria that physician boasts to know everything other health professionals trained to perfect.”

Ojinmah had declared that because physicians studied pharmacology came up with the inference that physicians know everything about pharmacy.

ACPN noted that pharmacology is only one of the eight core areas in pharmacy training. Even if physicians study pharmacology, “pharmacists are exposed to in-training, whatever happened to knowledge in other areas of pharmacy.”

Speaking on some of the positive impacts of pharmacists in society, they said: “Over 65 per cent of clinical visitations traceable to malaria in Nigeria are effectively treated to the extent of almost 90 per cent in community pharmacies in Nigeria.

“During the peak levels of Covid-19 pandemic, it was community pharmacies that provided affordable management costs through wellness protocols of dispensing routine vitamins and other remedies including appropriate diet at costs well below N2,000 to Nigerians when private hospitals charged between N5 million to N50 million to manage patients in their hospitals.

“These community pharmacists were not provided with PPEs and had to pay for it themselves to save their lives and that of their families. It is a sad commentary that no government official in Nigeria at state or federal levels has found it worthwhile to convey an appreciation of the patriotic gestures of these community pharmacists till now,” they said.

Community pharmacists complained that physicians continued to think they could perform all the parts of medical care from diagnosis to prescription care provision. They compared this to pharmacists in other climes where they were adequately compensated.

“In the United Kingdom (UK), when surgeries were closed down and citizens had to rely on only community pharmacists, the government released the sum of £300 million to community pharmacies to help consolidate their worthy services in national interest. For the United States (U.S), the government had to embrace a prompt strategy of designating accredited community pharmacies as vaccination centres for Covid-19. Independent Community pharmacies received between $80,000 to $100,000 special aid to help sustain their services.

 “The chain community pharmacies like Walgreen, Walmart, etc could not cope with the influx of patients and logically needed more pharmacists for efficiency.

They had to introduce ‘Sign-on fees’ ranging from $75,000 to $120,000 apart from regular wages to lure more pharmacists into their employment. This is one of the reasons more community pharmacists are relocating to the ‘Pharma friendly nations.”