As Nigeria inaugurates a new President today, Monday 29 May, in the person of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, striking pharmacists under the aegis of Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), have tasked him on the immediate implementation of their requests.
AHAPN belongs to the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA), whose members have been directed to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike since 26 May, 2023, to press home their demands from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
JOHESU/AHPA, among other things are asking for an adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as agreed in terms of settlement (TOS) of September 30, 2017. The unions are also calling for the payment of a peculiar allowance to health workers under the aegis of JOHESU/AHPA as well as the immediate and unconditional implementation of the Consultant Cadre circular of pharmacists in all federal health institutions (FHIs).
The National Executive Committee of AHAPN, has expressed her satisfaction with the level of compliance by her members in the ongoing strike which entered its 4th day today, as they urged President Tinubu, to forthwith order the implementation of the Pharmacists’ Consultancy Cadre, since all relevant circulars are already in place.
The National Chairman, AHAPN, Pharm.(Dr) Olabode Ogunjemiyo in a statement called for the direct implementation of the enhanced entry point and call duty allowance for pharmacists with the Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He also demanded the immediate resolution of all demands of JOHESU/AHPA, in order to forestall peace and harmony to the health sector.
He queried the rationale behind the questionable delay in adjusting the CONHESS, whereas the CONMESS has been reviewed several times. “It is inexplicable that a particular salary structure (CONMESS) had been adjusted four (04) times in a row while the other (CONHESS) that directly affect the pharmacists haven’t been adjusted for once since 2010. This singular action is discriminatory and condemnable.
“Worse still is the non-implementation of Federal Government released circulars on Pharmacists’ Consultancy cadre, entry point and enhanced call duty allowances for PharmD holders.
“While many countries are making concerted efforts to advance their health systems and practices, Nigeria is unfortunately witnessing a near collapse of its health system. This unfortunate scenario is a culmination of many factors that have now gotten worse due to massive brain drain of health professionals, especially pharmacists”.
The national leader of the hospital technical arm of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) highlighted genuine reasons for the urgent resolution of bottlenecks around the consultant cadre for pharmacists, noting that the position is globally recognised for pharmacists who have undergone additional postgraduate and specialist pharmacy residency, with fellowship trainings for at least 4 – 6years, which enable them provide specialist services in hospitals and other health – related institutions in specialties.
The essence of this specialisation, he said is to allow the consultant pharmacists focus their drug expertise in specific areas like Oncology, Paediatric, Nephrology, ENT, Psychiatry, O/G, Urology, Drug information, Poison Prevention and Management, Pharmacotherapy Pharmacy etc.
He however decried the effects of non-implementation of the cadre, which has made pharmacists in public institutions feel highly marginalised, frustrated and prevented from providing specialist services to improve patients’ quality of care through specialist pharmaceutical care including preventing, identifying and resolving several drug-related problems encountered in patients’ disease management.
“It is counterproductive for the Federal Ministry of Health and Chief Executives of Nigerian public hospitals to oppose the implementation of pharmacy consultancy in defiance of the specific directives of the Federal Government headed by His Excellency President Mohammed Buhari GCFR.
“Therefore, to forestall a peaceful and functional healthcare delivery system, the short-changing of pharmacists working in medical centres of universities, polytechnics, monotechnics and colleges of education in the following areas must seize. The affected areas are : Non-payment of teaching allowance even when they teach and train pharmacy interns; Non-payment of special COVID-19 allowance as done for pharmacists in other areas of practice; Non-implementation of the new hazard allowance as approved by Federal Government; and Non-sponsorship of Pharmacists to further studies/trainings from Tetfund”, he stated.