(By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis)
Rising from its 15th annual national scientific conference, the Nigerian Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists (NAHAP) has condemned the National Health Bill in its present form, adding that parts of the bill are in dire need of amendment, if it is going to be taken seriously.
The 5-day summit, which was held at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre in Abuja, recently, was declared open by the honourable minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, who was represented by Dr. Demola Onokumaya, secretary of health, FCT Administration.
It also featured a health walk by the delegates against drug hawking in public places, in recognition of the dangers of patronising drug hawkers to public health.
Dignitaries present at the opening ceremony include president of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Akintayo Olumide; chairman of the occasion, Pharm J.E.B. Adagadzu; Niger State commissioner for health, Dr. Ibrahim B. Sule; acting registrar of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, Pharm. (Mrs) Gloria Abumere, represented by Pharm. Peters Iliya; director general of NIPRD, represented by Prof Mrs Salawu and director general of NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhi, represented by Pharm. Awan H. Aboje.
Others were chairman, PSN Board of Fellows (BOF), Pharm. Ade Popoola, ably represented by the vice chairman, Hajia Aishat Giwa; deputy presidents of PSN, Pharm. Idris Pada and Pharm. Earnest Okoli, respectively; executive director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA),ably represented by Pharm. Sani Adamu; chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Pharm. Olufemi Adebayo; and chairperson of Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPS), Pharm. Hajia Zainab Sheriff.
While speaking on theme“The role of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists in providing safe medicines for Nigerians” Pharm. Yakubu Maji-Isah, NAHAP national chairman, commended the Federal Government’s attempt at developing the health system of the country through the enactment of a National Health Act, but strongly condemned the National Health Bill in its present form.
“The conference therefore called for the amendment of section 1 (1) of the bill which, as currently proposed, seeks to erode the autonomy and powers of the statutory regulatory body of the profession in the health sector.
“Also, section 9 (2a) which denies every free-born citizen of Nigeria’s equal right and privileges as enunciated in the 1999 constitution (as amended), as the provision of this section, seeks to restrict the statutory privilege to a category of health care providers on the basis of belonging to a particular profession,” he said.
The national chairman declared that pharmacists in hospital and administration are key professionals saddled with the responsibility of providing safe medicines for Nigerians, adding that while this is possible, it requires the application of rational use of medicines, adherence to good dispensing practices and the use of Pharmacovigillance activities to reduce adverse drugs effects.
Speaking further, Maji-Isah explained that what is required to achieve safe pharmaceutical care for Nigerians are skills and commitment of stakeholders, adequate budgetary provision and the political will of decision makers to execute programmes and enforced stipulated rules.
He commended President Jonathan on the inauguration of a presidential committee on harmonious working relationship in the health sector. He however condemned, in its entirety, desperate attempts by officials of the Federal Ministry of Health to frustrate the pragmatic recommendations, as contained in the report of the committee through bureaucracy.
“We therefore called on the government to commence without delay, the full implementation of the recommendations of the report of the committee. We are convinced that the non-implementation of the report has remained a major drawback in the health planning, which also places the health sector in a permanent state of entropy,” he argued.
Justifying the crucial roles played by his members in the health sector, the national chairman emphasised that pharmacists are crucial in detecting and resolving drug therapy problems among patients.
He remarked that to fulfil these roles requires, among other things, implementation of Unit Dose Dispensing System (UDDS), cooperation of other healthcare providers and provision of necessary tools, as well as a conducive environment, which must be readily available at all times, to effect prompt interventions.