Invest in Capacity Building, Strengthen Health System

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Pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have urged the federal and state governments to ensure drug availability and security in the country.

The PSN which also called for capacity building and adequate competences in the Nigerian health system, opined that they would help to re-position the nation’s health system for future public health emergencies.

In the statement, titled ‘COVID-19 – Myths and Realities of the Nigerian Health System,’ the PSN Lagos branch, said for many years, through its characteristic forward looking leadership, has always championed the need for a sanitised drug distribution channel in Nigeria.

In the statement signed by Chairman of the Lagos PSN, Gbolagade Iyiola, the group said government at all levels must begin to invest significantly into primary healthcare (PHC) with emphasis on preventive therapy through maximum engagement of Environmental Health Officers.

According to him, it is a statement of fact that government at all levels must tinker with their budgets to feature preventive care therapy at the expense of curative therapy.

He said government must create the atmosphere for health reforms which would focus on maximising the potentials of its workforce. “Healthcare is a globally inclined endeavour driven by international best practice. This is why each health professional specialises all over the world.”

In an effort to open the restricted borders of progression in healthcare in Nigeria, the PSN urged the Presidency to direct unhindered access of training facilities to all health workers in training at undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

“The FG must recognise and approve the consultancy cadre for pharmacists and other deserving health workers to improve competencies/capacities in emergencies and other times.”

While he drew the attention of the Lagos State Governor, BabajideSanwo-Olu to the suspension of the consultancy cadre of pharmacists in the employment of Lagos State Government after same was approved by the Executive Committee of Lagos State in 2018, Iyiola allegedly attributed this to the opposition posed to the approval by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).He urged Sanwo-Olu to investigate the circumstances under which frontline health workers including pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others enjoy different allowances at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba. “Doctors are paid N720, 000 monthly for special services in this dispensation while only one pharmacist is remunerated’ with a wretched N200, 000.

He pointed out that “in the category of volunteer health workers, doctors are paid N480, 000 while pharmacists and other health workers are paid N100, 000,” adding, “This is certainly entrenching hopelessness in chronic invalidism.”

In addition, the PSN urged the governor of Lagos State to improve the manpower needs in healthcare in Lagos State by facilitating the commencement of a degree programme at Lagos State University (LASU) through the establishment of a Faculty/College of Pharmacy immediately.

Furthermore, Iyiola called on President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the clamour of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) by approving the withheld April/May, 2018 salaries of health workers under the banner of these health sector unions who constitute over 95 per cent of the health workforce in Nigeria.

The PSN further said the Federal Government needed to motivate these health workers by making available requisite funds to take care of the adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Scale (CONHESS) as was done with the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) since 2014 in line with terms of agreement consummated since September 30, 2017.