Pharmacists Demand NHIA Adhere to New PSN Act

Pharmacists under the aegis of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have called on the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to embrace changes in the practice of pharmacy in Nigeria in its control of health insurance administration at all levels in the country.

ACPN told the Director General of National Health Insurance Authority, Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, that a new Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN Act 2022) which was officially announced in Federal Government Gazette No. 157 of August 30 2022 was structured to revolutionise Pharmacy practice in Nigeria.

In a letter to Prof. Sambo, titled, ‘Information on pharmacy practice as it relates to social health insurance schemes in Nigeria’, jointly signed by the ACPN National Chairman, Adewale Oladigbolu and National Secretary, Ezeh Ambrose, it advised that it was imperative NHIA adopt the new order as it will enable it establish a lawful operational guideline in accordance with the rule of law in Nigeria.

“Community pharmacists in Nigeria find it necessary to draw your attention to this new act, in a bid to ensure good pharmacy practice is enforced. In line with global best practices, the following new but salient provisions of law which will help the NHIA in coming up with lawful operational guidelines furtherance to rule of law in Nigeria have been passed,’’ the letter read in part.

It said, “The ACPN seeks new guidelines for the administration of its partnership with the NHIA. We now submit, with great responsibility, that from this point forward, these terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with all Acts of Parliament applicable to the pharmacy, drug, and health statutes.’’

It further explained that the ACPN took the initiative of drawing the attention of the leadership of NHIA to the development in line with its commitment to a better health service delivery in the country. “We believe this is the minimum needed to reactivate our failing health system.”

“Recent development compels us to update the NHIA about some paradigm shift in the practice of Pharmacy. This is most especially as it affects the operations of the NHIA which expectedly regulates and controls health insurance at Federal, State, and private levels in Nigeria.

“President Muhammadu Buhari signed a new Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Act 2022 (PCN Act 2022) by virtue of Government notice No. 108. The federal government officially announced through Gazette no. 157 of August 30, 2022, the coming into the life of a new Act of Parliament (PCN Act 2022) which has been structured to revolutionise Pharmacy practice in Nigeria,” it added.

ACPN listed some of the operational guidelines including Section 22(1) which says  that “any place used for the purpose of dispensing, selling, compounding, distribution, storage, stocking, retailing, wholesale, manufacturing, importation, exportation of drugs and poisons, scientific offices or any other of pharmaceutical activity shall be inspected and registered in accordance with the provisions of this Act and Section 27(1) which states that a person shall not own or operate a retail or Community Pharmacy practice unless the person is registered as a Pharmacist under this Act.’’

It also said that the Council may approve Satellite Pharmacy owned by licensed pharmacists who have a minimum of 10 years post-registration experience provided such Satellite Pharmacy is affiliated to a registered pharmaceutical premise for the purpose of regulation and control.

It also stated Section 29(1): Every Pharmaceutical premise is under the supervision of a Superintendent Pharmacist and Section 29(2): Where a premise is operated without a Superintendent Pharmacist for a continuous period of 30 days, the registration of the premises license shall lapse at the expiration of those 30 days.

The list includes, Section 29(3): “Every Pharmacy, whether in a public or private hospital, shall be under the supervision and control of a Superintendent Pharmacist,’’ Section 33(1): Pharmacies in public or private hospitals and clinics shall be subject to inspection, registration and annual licensure by the Council and Section 33(2): There shall be a Superintendent Pharmacist in every public and private hospital, clinic and healthcare institution where drugs are dispensed.’’

ACPN in the letter also drew the attention of Prof. Sambo to Section 71 of the new PCN act which focused on the ‘Interpretation’ of the various terminologies in the field of community pharmacy.

It said, “The NHIA is respectfully expected to note: Any location in Nigeria, no matter how insignificant it looks, where drugs are stocked and ultimately sold or dispensed must be registered by a Superintendent Pharmacist for inspection, registration, and licensed by the PCN.

“All Community Pharmacies and Hospital Pharmacies in primary, secondary and tertiary facilities in both the public and private sectors for private insurance or at State/Federal public sector levels must be registered by a Superintendent Pharmacist for inspection, registration, and licensure by the PCN.’’

Furthermore, it stated, “The NHIA is duly obligated by law to request for and provide evidence that all facilities it has approved for health insurance in both the public and private sector are beneficiaries of fee for service. This includes, the lawful payment mechanism to compensate for consumption in the Health Insurance dynamics are in essence compliant with all the provisions earlier cited in (1-9) of the PCN Act 2022.

The association expressed optimism that the collaborative initiative will achieve the desired results.

“The ACPN once again courteously solicits the maximum collaboration and support of the NHIA to note with a sense of responsibility that the spirit of PCN Act 2022 both forbids and prohibits the dispensing of drugs by persons who are not Registered and duly Licensed Pharmacists in Nigeria,” it added.

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