(By Adebayo Oladejo)
Immediate past president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Azubike Okwor, has urged the federal government to ensure that every citizen, regardless of financial status, has easy access to quality drugs.
This, he said, would help to achieve the desired improvement in health care delivery in the nation.
Okwor made the assertion while addressing journalists at the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN, Lagos) Continuing Education Seminar, held at NECA House, Ikeja, Lagos, last December.
According to him, irrespective of whatever the government may have done to develop the health care sector, all would be in vain if only the rich have access to quality health care.
“Various agencies like the United Nations and others have declared that access to quality drug is a human right and that people should have unhindered access to quality drugs at all times,” he declared.“In fact, some people can hardly live without drug; so it is a human right.But the question is, have we made it a human right in Nigeria? The answer is no. Are we working to make it a human right in Nigeria? Nobody knows yet.”
Also speaking on the efforts of the ACPN in ensuring that the approved pharmacy emblem is available to every registered community pharmacist in the country, Okwor said, “The pharmacy emblem is an age-long project and a product of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), with the aim of helping Nigerians identify the places where quality pharmaceutical care can be accessed.”
He also added that the challenge currently confronting the association is the issue of fakers who have infiltrated the practice, parading themselves as practitioners and even fabricating the PSN pharmacy emblem.
“A lot of charlatans are faking the emblem and it has been a big issue that has to be resolved on time. In doing so, the PSN itselfneeds to go back to the drawing board and ensure that every community pharmacist has the emblem, so that our effort at channelling the patients to where they can get suitable and quality drugs would be accomplished,” he noted.
While calling on reputable community pharmacists who are yet to acquire the emblemto do so in good time, Okwor further counselled pharmacists to go out of their way to ensure they get drugs for their pharmacies from genuine sources.
The former PSN president also suggested ways in which pharmacists and regulatory agencies can work together to build a sound and mutually-beneficial relationship. “We must work with the agencies and the agencies themselves should get interested in getting people to comply with regulations, without necessarily applying punitive measures,” he said. “I’m happy we have a new Chairman for the board of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN); and I am very sure he is somebody who will ensure that they work with pharmacists to help them build up whatever practices they have, so as to meet up with the standard they are going to be setting for pharmacists. I think that is the best way to get people to obey regulations.”