– As PSN Gets Set for 95th National Conference
For the unsavoury reality that has seen Nigerian pharmacists troop out in droves in search of better pay and working conditions outside the country to abate, government must wake up to its responsibilities to the health sector in general and to the Pharmacy profession in particular. This was part of the observations of the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Professor Cyril Usifoh, during a press briefing at the Pharmacy House, Anthony Lagos, on Wednesday 26 October, 2022, to herald the forthcoming national conference of the apex pharmaceutical body.
Bemoaning the abysmal level of emigration of pharmacists and other health workers from Nigeria to foreign climes, Usifoh said the number was alarming, adding that Nigeria will continue to be at the losing end if the trend is left unchecked. “There is an unprecedented movement of pharmacists away from Nigeria. at the last count, about 5,208 pharmacists have left the country in the last 5 years in search of the proverbial green pastures, especially in Canada, UK and the United States, just like their counterparts in other health fields and indeed many young Nigerians”, he said.
Wondering why Nigeria will continue to develop the health sectors of other countries at the expense of its own, Usifoh called for a system that would enable the production of more than the required trained personnel such that the excess can be exported to other climes. He said: “Nigeria currently contributes a great number of healthcare workers to the UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia and other high-income countries. This is both a blessing and a curse. It is a curse since it worsens our health system’s fragility and jeopardises the ability of the national and sub-national entities to meet the health needs of their population.
“It can be a blessing if we harness these global needs, positioning the educational institutions to produce more than our projected needs locally and exporting these skills in exchange for commitments from the high-income countries to invest in the training of healthcare workers locally.”
While highlighting the invaluable contributions of pharmacists to the health sector, Usifoh also called the attention of the Federal Government to their marginalisation, adding that the welfare of public service pharmacists must be taken seriously, lest the already precarious situation degenerates to an irreparable level. “We hereby request for the immediate review of the New Scheme of Service for pharmacists. This scheme of service is expected to incorporate the enhanced entry point and enhanced call duty allowance for Pharm. D holders and the approved Consultancy Cadre for pharmacists”, he added.
On how government can stop the brain drain and allied issues bedeviling the practice of Pharmacy in the country, the PSN President made the following demands: improved healthcare funding and fairness in financing, career progression and meaningful engagement for all healthcare workers, respect, teamwork and a health system governance that is fair to all categories of healthcare workers. Others are: recognition and remuneration for practice specialisation, improved work environment and benefits, culture and interpersonal social networks, training and development.
Slated for the Tin City of Jos, Plateau State between 31 October and 5 November, 2022, with the theme “Medicine Security in an Unstable Economy”, the opening ceremony of the 95th PSN conference will be chaired by former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), GCFR with the keynote address by Pharm. (Dr) Obi Adigwe, DG of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) while Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (rtd) OFR, Chairman of the NDLEA will be special guest of honour. His Excellency, Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong, the executive governor of Plateau State will be the chief host.