President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa has called on the Nigerian government and the Presidential Task Force,o the Coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of pharmacists expertise, to strengthen the fight against the disease, stressing that Nigerian pharmacists are capable of conducting COVID-19 tests, using the desktop test kits, as being done by their counterparts in other nations.
Ohuabunwa made the submission on the heels of the creation of new testing centres for COVID-19 across the country, calling the attention of government to the need to deploy test kits to pharmacies for the exercise.
Speaking with Pharmanews an exclusive interview, the number one pharmacist in Nigeria said: “Nigerian pharmacists have the capacity to carry out COVID-19 tests using the desktop test kits that are being used in many nations today. After all, pharmacists are already carrying out tests for malaria, diabetes, and others”.
It will be recalled that the International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP has recently called on governments across the globe to authorise and incorporate the network of pharmacies in their countries as testing centres, following the adoption of evidence-based protocols for the usability of rapid point-of-care tests for COVID-19 in appropriate individuals in the community setting.
The apex Pharmacy institution in the world also urged leadership of nations to acknowledge the roles being played by pharmacists in the current global pandemic, as they are exposed to the risks of the lethal virus without adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) thus called for the provision of PPE for all pharmacists, whether in the hospital or community.
Commending the federal government on the recent increment in health workers salaries, Ohuabunwa said it is a good start, which can be improved upon, noting that the most significant breakthrough is that all healthcare professional groups were involved in the negotiation and it was equitably done.
“That is what we are fighting for. Healthcare is a team work and all must be taken together. We do not preach equality but equity. We believe state government and private sector employers will borrow a leaf from this development”, he noted.
On whether the increment in their wages is commensurate to the magnitude of risk they are exposured to, he expressed optimism that it is starting point for government, although all professions have their own risks.
However, he said “healthcare professionals know they in risky professions especially in dealing with infectious diseases. So no one can sufficiently compensate them for the risks but this helps to boost their morale”.
When asked the number of pharmacists among the 40 healthcare workers who tested positive to COVID-19 as announced by the minister of health, he said the list has not being made available to them, while suspecting that some pharmacists may be among them.
“We still do not have the list, to know all those affected. But I suspect there may be some pharmacists”, he replied .
Concerning the operation of the Chinese medical team in the country on the expiration of their 14-day isolation, Ohuabunwa expressed the view of PSN on their stay, saying they should not be allowed to manage COVID-19 patients directly, rather, Nigerian medical team should continue with their treatment .
“Our stand is that they should not be involved in directly managing Nigerian COVID-19 patients. We have enough Nigerian healthcare professionals. But they can advice. We can learn from their experiences and they can help set up the equipment they donated”, he stated