As the phased easing of the lockdown commences on Monday, members of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) have stressed the importance of adhering strictly to the guidelines as specified by government in order to curb the spread of the virus in the country. They have also called on government to improve supply of personal protective equipment, PPE to all categories of health workers.
Commending the federal government for incentives offered to healthcare professionals, the association has also urged government to learn from the example of the American Model where the government recently gave approval for community pharmacies to serve as testing centres for the populace to ensure more people get screened for the disease. “Nigeria boasts of community pharmacies in every state of the federation and co-opting them into COVID testing programme will serve to reach the bulk of the population within a very short time”, they quipped.
Speaking through a press statement mailed to Pharmanewsonline, signed by the National Chairman, AHAPN, Dr Kingsley Chiedu Amibor and the Secretary, Dr Hafiz Ola Akande, the hospital pharmacists expressed their absolute support for the use of face masks and hand sanitizers, saying they are “willing and ready to make hand sanitizers and hand washing soaps available at affordable costs so long as we are able to access the relevant active pharmaceutical ingredients. We call on public spirited individuals to make face masks available to the populace as part of post lockdown measures to curtail the spread. Hand sanitizers should be made available, including portable size for use by individuals”.
The association however frown at the spread of the disease among health workers which has affected 113 healthcare workers in Nigeria as at 30 April, with most of them in the private sector. They maintained that this number of infections is highly unacceptable; while calling for all hands to be desk to salvage the already slim healthcare workforce from reducing again.
They vehemently warned against allowing the experiences of countries in Europe and America to happen in Nigeria, where hundreds of healthcare workers including pharmacists, medical doctors, nurses and others were lost to COVID-19. Provision of personal protective equipment most especially face masks (not cloth masks) and hand gloves on a massive scale for healthcare workers including pharmacists in all government hospitals has become inevitable, they stated.
They continued: “Now that the government is embarking on phased easing of the lockdown, it is extremely important that the guidelines as specified by government be strictly followed by the population to curtail further spread of the virus. We hereby call on the Nigerian people to cooperate fully with the government and observe the newly released guidelines aimed at curtailing further spread of the virus”.
Parts of the release read: “There are concerns about the safety of hospital pharmacists as some of them wear the cloth masks when interfacing with patients because of inadequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs). The Association hereby makes an appeal to the government on behalf of our members for urgent action to make the appropriate facemasks available.
“We implore healthcare workers in private practice – medical doctors and pharmacists to assume a high index of suspicion in dealing with patients that patronize their services. Every patient should be handled as if he has the active disease and as such must be fully kitted with PPEs in attending to their patients. We encourage them to refer all patients with high temperatures and other symptoms of COVID-19 to the NCDC or other testing centres nearest to them.
“With the lifting of the lockdown by the federal government, use of hand sanitizers on a regular basis by the population has become inevitable. Luckily, Nigerian pharmacists including hospital based pharmacists in teaching hospitals and other places have risen to the occasion and produced large quantities of hand sanitizers but these are inadequate to serve a population of two hundred million people.
“We equally commend the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 ably led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the NCDC and Federal Ministry of Health for measures taken so far to ensure the pandemic does not overwhelm the country. We encourage efforts at research to produce a vaccine for the virus here in Nigeria”.