Until the place and roles of pharmacists in Nigeria are recognised, the actualisation of ‘Health for All’ in the country may not be achievable, members of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), Lagos State Chapter, have said. They made this submission at the commemoration of the World Health Day 2023, held at the Sango Primary Health Centre, in Agege Local Government Area of Lagos State recently.
The hospital pharmacists who conducted free medical screening for over 300 residents of the area, also counselled them on the importance of diseases prevention and why they should avoid self-medication and drug abuse, as they have long lasting adverse effects.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Pharmanewsonline, Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Lagos State Chapter, Pharm. Babayemi Oyewole, appreciated AHAPN members for their strides towards achieving ‘Health for All’, which was the theme of the World Health Day 2023, but sadly observed that all Nigerians may not have access to quality healthcare, until government recognise the roles of pharmacists and accord them necessary attention.
He decried the negligence of citizens’ healthcare in the country, as majority of the populace are not enjoying pharmaceutical care, which is the basic approach for all to have access to health as it is practiced in advanced nations of the world. Until every Nigerian starts accessing free medical screening and treatment, that health for All can be achievable, he said.
“Well, there is nothing really impossible in life, that is the truth, but the way we have been paying lip service to health here in Nigeria, leaves much to be desired. So definitely, we can’t achieve the goal if things continue like this.
“Unfortunately, the pharmacists that would have contributed a lot to achieving this goal are not recognised. The government seems not to know the roles of pharmacists, because if they have known the importance of pharmacists in the healthcare delivery system, they will accord us much more respect and much more positions that they are doing right now.
“Presently the society is at a loss for not enjoying pharmaceutical care their counterparts are enjoying in other countries of the world. When a society begins to enjoy pharmaceutical care like it is done in other climes, then health for all will really be achievable”, he stated.
Chairman, Lagos Stste AHAPN, Pharm.(Dr) Modupe Oyawole, also emphasised the need for people to get their medications from registered pharmacy outlets, because there are several illegal stores that circulate adulterated medicines which has been the bane of diseases prevalence in the country.
She noted that government must assist the poor and underserved to access treatment, as they have observed at different times during their outreaches that a large number of Nigerians can’t afford their medical needs due to financial challenges, especially with the high inflation rate, which has made most ethical drugs gone beyond the reach of the poor.
According to her: “We have been known to always to give back to the society, though we are an association, but an association with a difference, because we always like to inform, educate and ensure that we counsel the society on how to take care of their health. So we saw this as a good opportunity, being the World Health Day with the theme “Health for All”.
“So we thought how do we achieve health for all? Then we decided to screen the people freely, so that at least, we can move close to achieving health for all. Prevention, they have always say is better than cure, so we brought about awareness on prevention of chronic diseases to the people to embrace prevention than cure. The tests we conducted were blood pressure, BMI, blood glucose, cholesterol, and counselling”.
Appreciating the pharmacists for their good gestures towards the community, Chairman, Agege LGA, Alhaji Ganiyu Kola Egunjobi, acknowledged that it was the first time pharmacists will be coming over to the health centre to screen people freely.
The Chairman, who was ably represented by Mr Gbolahan Owolabi Dada, supervisor for health, Agege, LGA, noted the timeliness of the activity as he has recorded several cases of high blood pressure at the centre, whom he has referred to general hospital for further assessment and treatment.
“The last time we had this kind of free screening exercise was last year, and it was arranged by LASUTH’s management. Pharmacists have not been here before, this is the first time pharmacists are coming to organise this in this centre. It is well appreciated and we want them to come in the next three or four months” he stated.