The leadership of the Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria (CPAN) has lauded the decision of Federal Government of Nigeria and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) to include community pharmacies as part of approved vaccination centres for COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
The group described the inclusion plan by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 as highly commendable, as the citizenry will be the greatest beneficiaries.
Recalled that during the week. the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and Chair, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, and Executive Director/CEO, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, had at different times during the Conference on Health Advances Innovation and Research (CHAIR) organised by the management of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), mentioned the plans by the government to expand vaccination centres beyond public facilities, to pharmacies, private hospitals and other institutions
They hinged the vaccination expansion initiative on the inability of public healthcare team to cater for the healthcare needs of the Nigerian populace, as 70 per cent of Nigerians access their healthcare through private facilities.
In a statement issued to Pharmanewsonline, signed by CPAN National Chairman, Dr Joseph Madu, he noted that community pharmacists are usually the most accessible trained healthcare professionals in the community, and they are usually utilised by most members of the public as first point of call on health matters.
He explained that any policy to include community pharmacies in primary healthcare services such as COVID-19 vaccination for immunisation purposes is highly commendable.
According to him, “the use of community pharmacies as vaccination centres is not new to the world as this is the norm in most countries’ with good health indices such as the US and the UK. The use of community pharmacies as vaccination centres (including for COVID-19) by countries such as the US and UK, greatly explains why such countries have brought the pandemic to their knees.
“CPAN strongly believes that this singular decision of the FG, to use community pharmacies and other private healthcare facilities as vaccination centres will go a long way in exterminating the pandemic in the country.
“People can now walk across to the nearby community pharmacies in their neighbourhood to get vaccinated against COVID-19, once the decision is implemented”, he stated.
Another advantage, he said is that they will not require a prior appointment to consult with the community pharmacists.
Furthermore, he maintained that the community pharmacists are highly trained healthcare personnel on drug matters, and their proximity to the members of the community in which they practice, as well as trust by the community on the pharmacist can also assist in educating the members of the public against false information and myths surrounding the COVID-19 situation.
He expressed optimism that the FG & NPHCDA will extend the use of community pharmacies as vaccination centres to other vaccine preventable diseases and not just COVID-19, as that is in line with international best practices.