-Blame COVID-19 spike on misinformation
The President, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy, (NAPharm), Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, has led stakeholders in the healthcare sector and governance, including the Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, Hon. Gboluga Ikengboju, member, Federal House of Representatives, representing Okiti Pupa/Irele Federal Constituency, Ondo state, and others to call on community pharmacists in the country to remain committed to quality healthcare delivery, while advancing the practice to close gaps in COVID-19 vaccination as well as routine immunisation.
The one-time minister of health, made the call while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 41st Annual National Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), tagged “Ajumose Eko 2022”, held at Festival Hotel, Festac, Lagos State recently.
Speaking further, the foremost pharmacist, who commended the leadership style of the association’s national chairman, Pharm. Wale Oladigbolu, however, lauded the decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency by including community pharmacies as part of approved vaccination centres for COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
While speaking, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, identified misinformation as one of the key factors responsible for low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria even as the country begins to witness an increase in figure of new cases.
Speaking further, he noted that the bulk of the country’s challenges was at the community level where a huge population are misinformed, thereby making people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
Shuaib said that over 26 million people have been fully vaccinated which represents 23.4 per cent of the eligible population, “Currently, our data shows that 26,127,761 eligible persons have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Nigeria, having received the second dose of vaccine. The number of fully vaccinated persons represents 23.4 per cent of the 111,176,503 eligible population targeted for full vaccination against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
Shuaib who was represented by the South-West Zonal Director of the Agency, Dr Adefunke Adesope said that COVID-19 crises provide the country with opportunities to improve routine immunisation and at the same time open doors for more health professionals to be fully integrated into PHC service delivery.
Speaking on the theme, “Never Waste a Crisis: Community Pharmacists Learning for Future Preparedness” He tasked ACPN to mobilise its members to rapidly increase the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines in the communities by leveraging their influence, saying NPHCDA will continue to provide technical support and policy guidance to the association.
In his contribution, Pharm. Oladigbolu mentioned the support ACPN received from New Heights Pharmaceutical, saying it has assisted them to produce documentation kits for community pharmacists, “The kit consisted of a prescription pad, a referral pad and booklet on the interpretation of laboratory parameters. These have been distributed to all community pharmacists across the country.”
Oladigbolu said that despite the challenges associated with the supply chain system for medicines distribution in Nigeria, the association started a supply chain platform that interconnects all pharmaceutical entities in Nigeria, “We now have a bespoke inventory control software for community pharmacists.
“We, therefore, implore the governments to include pharmacists in anything that has to do with health of the society; as primary healthcare providers, in the National Health Insurance Scheme and by signing the new Pharmacy Bill. This will go a long way to engender a healthier nation”.
Corroborating his views, the National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Prof. Cyril Usifoh, commended community pharmacists for being at the forefront of providing direct healthcare to patients during COVID-19.
“Not only have they played their traditional role of delivering medications to patients, but they also performed additional duties regarding patient education and triaging of patients to reduce the load on hospitals as well as screening for diseases and promoting clear treatment concepts regarding this disease.”
On his part, Chairman of the Occasion and Member Federal House of Representatives, Pharm. (Hon) Gboluga Ikengboju expressed the legislative readiness to support the association in performing its role towards a better society.
“We are going to support community pharmacists to improve on healthcare delivery system and to engage more in advance services. We are going to support you in promoting adequate training and technological support.
“We will push to see government commitment to 2015 Abuja arrangement of 15 per cent of budgetary allocation to the healthcare system. We are also going to push for every community pharmacist to be paid for providing essential services through NHIS”.