‘National Emergency Treatment C’ttee Without Pharmacists, An Aberration’

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National Emergency Treatment Committee (NEMTC) without a pharmacist is an aberration capable of undermining the objective of the project, the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has said.

ACPN, the umbrella body of all registered Community Pharmacists in Nigeria described the 27-man committee without a Pharmacist, as not only an error but also erodes the very importance of pharmacists in the country’s health care delivery.

In a petition to the Federal Ministry of Health, the association which is an affiliate of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) observed that the composition of the Committee approved by the National Council on Health was lopsided as of the 27 members, 13 were Medical Doctors and the rest representing various agencies of government and professional bodies.

Describing the exclusion of Pharmacists from such an important and sensitive national assignment as an aberration, ACPN argued that it viewed the National Emergency Medical Committee as part of the “unending subjugation of other health professionals to the whims and caprices of Doctors in the health system of our country.”

“In the very minimum, an Emergency Medical Treatment Committee would have at least a Pharmacist who coordinates drug use endeavours in the Committee since over 90% of the rescue efforts in a Health/Medical emergency ultimately revolves around the handling of drugs which remains the lawful prerogative of Registered Pharmacists by virtue of the Pharmacy Act and the National Drug Policy,” the body argued.

“ If Community Pharmacists, who are the first port of call for those who want to access health, either in emergencies or other situations are not duly represented or recognised in the NEMTC, how do we secure the buy-in of Community Pharmacists who account for over 70% of first-line interventions in the health system at global level?

“The BHCPF 2020 guidelines provide that the NEMTC may, as required by operational exigencies, recommend modifications or additions to the Committee to the Honourable Minister of Health and by extension the National Council on Health, because of the palpable aberrations as well as absurdity involved in the structuring of a sensitive Committee like NEMTC,” it said.

According to the document jointly signed by Sam Adekola and Bose Idowu, Chairman and Secretary of the ACPN respectively, the association advised the Federal Government to redress the composition of the committee.

“The body also raised concern about the procurement, handling, storage and distribution of drugs in emergencies as well as who coordinates dispensing and counselling of drugs in emergencies in the absence of Pharmacists.” “How do we document interaction profiles including drug/drug, drug/food etc? How do we manage and report side-effects, adverse drug reactions in our emergency response on a National basis if Pharmacists are not part of the NEMTC?”

And for a nation with a history of extremely wretched regulatory control, how do we ensure quackery does not reign supreme when we deliberately albeit mischievously continue to negate the contributions of Health facilities recognised in the National Health Act.

“The indecorous handling of drugs, especially in the private sector where an uncivil culture of prescribing Pharmacists and dispensing Doctors hold sway contrary to international best practice, will be allowed to continue unabated if the Doctor dominated NEMTC continues to operate the way it is today without the technical input of the custodians of drugs.

It blamed the ugly situation on the National Council on Health’s refusal to abide with the law that compels the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to invite the Presidents of all the professional associations in the Health Sector to its meetings. “This gives the HMH the leverage to manipulate the Council of Health to his professional or even personal advantage.”

The ACPN called on the government to investigate the development and redress of the distasteful composition of the NEMTC without further delay.