By James Sowole
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the weekend, called on the Federal Government to make legislation on the sale of drugs in the country to check cases of abuse, which portends danger to the healthcare delivery.
Chairman of the Ondo State chapter of the NMA, Dr. Dokun Nuel, made the call in Akure, at the opening of the 2012 Physician Week of the association during which two lectures were delivered by experts in medicare.
Nuel said the theme for the Physician Week ‘Prescription of Medicines in Nigeria: Abuse and Implication for the Health of Nigerians,’ was deliberately chosen in view of the various cases of drug abuse in the country and its attendant problems.
According to him, government at all levels should strengthen relevant organisations and bodies on the enforcement of the legislation on the sale, purchase and use of drugs in the country because uncontrolled sale of drugs has been causing serious problems both to the purchaser, users and the society at large.
He said a situation whereby any person could just walk to a patent medicine shop and buy drugs without relevant prescription by qualified medical doctors does not augur well for healthcare delivery system.
The chairman said the case of Cynthia Osokogwu would not have happened if the relevant legislations had been put in place and enforcement agencies had been empowered and strengthened to deal with the issue.
Nuel therefore advised members of the public against self-prescription and purchase of drugs without visiting qualified personnel who would first diagnose their ailment and prescribe appropriate drugs for treatment.
While declaring the week opened, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Kola Ademujimi, said the current situation of drug management system in Nigeria today where anybody can buy any type of medicine anywhere, anytime anyhow and from anyone with attendant problems should concern every stakeholder.
Apart from the murder of Osokogwu, whose killer confessed to using a prescription drug without doctor’s prescription, Mimiko said there is possible emergence of Extreme Resistance Tuberculosis (XDR-TB) otherwise called Incurable TB because the second line anti TB Drugs are readily available for over the counter purchase.
To resolve the problem of irrational prescription of drugs, Mimiko advocated participatory intervention of government, the prescribers particularly the doctors and the general public.
According to the governor, the government must make deliberate investment in health to create an enabling environment for quality health care delivery while designated regulatory bodies saddled with the responsibilities of enforcing relevant laws for safe prescribing must carry out their duties with seriousness it deserves.
Mimiko said prescribers; particularly doctors should avoid poly-pharmacy, prescription in generic names and should please take time to educate the patients on the drugs prescribed to them.
He also stressed the need to intensify community health education to strengthen the capacity of the people to take informed decision on health seeking and rationale drug use.