Health

December 9, 2022

ACPN to FG: Stop migration of pharmacists through rejigged NHIA

By Chioma Obinna

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, urged the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health to rejig the new National Health Insurance Authority, NHIA, in order to halt the mass emigration of pharmacists from the country.

They insisted that unless the community pharmacists’ right place is protected in the new NHIA act, the assurance of the totality of care for Nigerians may become a mirage.

Speaking recently at the National Summit on Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria, organised by the ACPN in Lagos, the National Chairman of the association, Pharm. Wale Oladigbolu, noted that without the inclusion of community pharmacists in the services of a prescription under the National Health Insurance System, the health insurance will miss it and be on the verge of failing.

He also noted that community pharmacists are the closest to the people in terms of trained healthcare professionals, adding that they are ideally the heart of primary healthcare services wherever they are as the country currently has about 7000 community pharmacists.

 “We are focusing on the new act of health insurance, so if we get it right, the future of community pharmacy in Nigeria is bright, if not, we can as well pass a death sentence to community pharmacy in Nigeria. A lot of my members are leaving the country in thousands, and as a matter of fact, as the national chairman of community pharmacists in Nigeria, I am pleading that my colleagues should remain in the country, and I am planning so that they can have incentives to remain in the country” he said.

He added, so if the national health insurance misses it this time around, practically 90 per cent of my members will leave this country, because, in other countries where they get it right, you would see that health insurance system is what we can call the backbone for the healthcare system in general, both in term of quality of service to the people and accessibility of care, especially for the common man.

Oladigbolu also disclosed that the aim of the summit was to assure the general public as well as fellow healthcare providers that the association has a great interest in universal health coverage as well as equal access to health for everybody, irrespective of the social and economic status of that person. As private providers, we want to partner with the government to make sure that this becomes a reality.

Also speaking at the event, graced by the leaders and representatives of all the interest groups of the PSN as well as ACPN Chairmen and Secretaries across the country, the PSN president, Prof Cyril Usifoh, said the summit was timely as it came at a time a decision has to be taken concerning meeting up with the Universal Health Coverage.

“Whatever the resolution made here today will form part of our advocacy tools for us to use in discussing with the stakeholders towards solving the challenges that are facing the practice and that is hampering their delivery to the populace. So, our take is that whatever we have here today would be used by the PSN and form part of our advocacy tools.

The PSN boss who was represented by the Chairman, Lagos PSN, Pharm. IyiolaGbolagade said the new health insurance act is good, but it wouldn’t have been good for us if not for the signing into law of our pharmacy bill, which has become an act of the parliament.

Addressing participants at the summit, the chairman of the occasion, Pharm. Anthony Akhimien, former president, of PSN, commended the ACPN national chairman and his team for coming up with such a laudable programme, saying the challenges bedevilling community pharmacy practice today were born out of a lack of ideas and innovations.

He added that the programme was very apt as it had to do with a review of the national health insurance scheme, coming under universal health coverage. As you are aware, the UHC focuses on equitable healthcare distribution and bringing healthcare to the doorstep of every Nigerian and the target is 2030. We once had a target of 2000, but it became a mirage, but with 2030 staring us in the face, we feel the only way to achieve that is by bringing everybody together, including the stakeholders to dialogue on the way forward.

“The best way to go is to collaborate, and we have started it. As they say, the journey of 100 years begins with a step, so what you have seen here today is pointing to collaboration as all stakeholders here today are here for the same cause. Others should replicate this, let us dialogue and make the consensus work, all for the patient’s benefit”.

Also speaking, the duo of Dr Ibrahim Akinwunmi Mustafa, permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, and Pharm. Stella Aribeana, director, of Food and Drugs, Federal Ministry of Health, noted that to achieve universal health coverage, collaboration is critical, adding that the agenda of the government is to improve health and it cannot be done in isolation hence the need for carrying other healthcare professionals along.

The summit themed:  “Strengthening Private Sector Engagement For Universal Health Coverage: National Health Insurance System and the Future of Community Pharmacy Practice in Nigeria”, had in attendance, other eminent personalities in the pharmaceutical industry, including Dr Ernest Okafor, chairman, PWDAN; Pharm. Abiola Paul-Ozieh, chairman, HCPAN, Lagos State; DrAbiolaIdowu, executive secretary, HEFAMA; Pharm. Adeosun Sakirat, DPS, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board; Pharm. GafarMadehin, Pharm. Anthony Bola Oyawole; Pharm. Ambrose Ezeh; among others.