-As Lagos PSN Holds AGM
Amid the euphoria of Nigeria receiving her first delivery of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility, members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Lagos State Chapter, have asked the Federal Government on their roles in the ongoing vaccination process in the country.
The pharmacists, who raised concerns about their exclusion from the ongoing vaccination exercise, said as custodians of all medicines, pharmacists occupy fundamental position in vaccination, thus sought further explanation from government for keeping them out of the distribution team.
Speaking with the Chairman, Lagos PSN, Pharm. Gbolagade Iyiola, at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the branch, held at the Indoor Hall of the State Secretariat, Ogudu, Lagos, on Thursday, he noted that there is a need for community pharmacists to know their role in the vaccination process, adding that as obtains in other countries, especially in the US, every member of the healthcare team is very important.
He said: “All hands must be on deck. We don’t have enough health professionals in Nigeria. Even doctors, nurses, pharmacists are not enough. So, we want to let the government know that it is very crucial to make maximum use of all our healthcare professionals to the benefit of the public.”
Regarding challenges encounter by pharmacists during their day to day operations, Iyiola hinted on their plans to surmount such problems and make pharmacists’ lives better thereby enhancing the provision of quality care to the populace.
“However, the major issue in Nigeria healthcare space is that pharmacists are being confronted in public service with physicians, who have taken up the leadership space and ready to snuff life out of other providers. Nevertheless, we remain undaunted. We want to look at situation whereby our colleagues will be able to reach their full potentials and professional”.
“For those in community practice, people running outstanding pharmacies in the society are being bedeviled with poor regulations which is making it so difficult for them to offer sacrifices maximally. We will continue to partner with regulator of pharmacies which is PCN,” he explained.
In his own contribution, Pharm. Kola Sunmonu, secretary PSN, Lagos State said the government needs to understand that healthcare is a team work, adding that the era for a particular profession to be parading themselves as the alpha and omega of the healthcare sector and holding the key to patients’ wellbeing alone has to stop.
“The world has moved beyond that. In fact what we are seeing in other part of the world is that physicians are encouraging pharmacists to take prescribing courses. In Nigeria, physicians are fighting pharmacists on consultancy cadre. What does it mean to be a consultant? It shows you have acquired special knowledge in your field of study. We have consultant engineers, auditors, and the rest. This should be to the benefit of Nigerians” he stressed.
He also expressed his worries on tackling the issue of drug abuse that seems to be getting worse in our society: “He said drug abuse has eaten so deeply into the country. It is everywhere and it is mostly in those places that you least expect, even in our religious institutions, drugs are abused.”
“Some will even say it has gone beyond drug abuse and it is now substance abuse. As a healthcare professional, we have realised that almost anything can be abused. People should stop concentrating on only drugs. Children sniff blue, nail polishes, gums and so many more. Things that parents won’t even imagine. It has gone deep in the society.
“Looking at the conversion of codeine containing expectorant over the counter medications to prescription only medications, this is part of the issues to be addressed. We have heads of the family taking codeine containing cough expectorant and the only cough you hear is that mild one and children as good observers see this as follow suit after”, he stated.
Stating some of the issues pharmacists intend to harp more on in the year 2021, Sunmonu said their number one agenda is sensitisation on drug abuse and this will be one of the major work they will embark on. He also noted that they might not be able to go on road walk like previous years due to the COVID-19 restriction, however, this will be on their A list this year.
In the same vein, Iyiola mentioned the issue of itinerant and illegal drug dealers in the country, saying they are dangerous to the practice of Pharmacy, as they constitute a nuisance to professionals by selling fake products and cutting corners, which inadvertently is endangering the lives of Nigerians.
He said PSN is ready to make the public know the dangers of these sharp practices as they will continue to use all what they have to fight the menace.