As the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been lagging behind in achieving Universal Health Coverage for the nation’s citizens, pharmacists have been charged to play active role to ensure that Nigerians have access to quality assured medicines, which will enhance the actualization of Universal Health Coverage.
While the NHIS has not been able to cover more than seven per cent of the Nigerian population since 2005 when it was launched, speakers at the day three of the ongoing PSN conference in Port Harcourt have said access to quality assured medicine will be a panacea to Universal Health Coverage in the country.
Speaking during the breakout session on Wednesday, on the topic “Access to Quality Assured Medicine As a panacea to Universal Health Coverage”, the lead speaker, who is the Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer, NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Nasir Sambo, noted that Universal Health Coverage means nobody is left behind in accessing quality healthcare service, adding that health products is a global priority.
He however stated that the scheme has been faced with several challenges over the years which have hindered it from achieving its set target to the citizens.
According to the NHIS boss, the scheme has been confronted with many challenges, which has hindered it from making quality drugs available to all Nigerians and the challenges includes limited availability of drug products, limited acceptability of generics drugs as well as poor quality of drugs and products among others.
The NHIS boss however said the scheme is working hard to make things work out as expected to benefit all Nigerians, noting that the scheme is coming up with new initiative of drug branding, cost sharing and innovative financing.
Dr Chijioke Ofomata of Clinical Pharmacy, Nnamdi Azikwe University, who is also a speaker, noted that the goal of Universal Health Coverage is to ensure that everyone obtains the health service needed without suffering hardship when paying for them. He however lamented that substandard and falsified medicines have denied many Nigerians quality healthcare.
He therefore urged drug regulatory agencies, such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) to assume active roles in Universal Health Coverage and be up and doing.
On his part, Dr Ahmed Ndagi Mohammed of Dalas Medicare, who was also a speaker, opined that Universal Health Coverage cannot be achieved without the role of the pharmacists.
He therefore called on all pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies and regulators across the country to start playing active roles in the Universal Health Coverage by ensuring that Nigerians have access to quality medicines at all time.