PSN to FG: Avert health sector crisis, pay workers their benefits

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PSN to FG: Avert health sector crisis, pay workers their benefits
L-R: Pharm. (Mrs) Olayinka Oredola, chairman of the occasion; Pharm. Babayemi Oyekunle, PSN, Lagos State Branch; Pharm. (Mrs) Olubunmi Omaruaye, one of the Merit Award Winners, with her husband, Pharm. Ogheneochuko Omaruaye, CEO, New Heights Pharmaceuticals; and Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, former PSN president, at the Annual Luncheon of the Lagos PSN, held recently.

To forestall service disruption and shutdown of the health sector, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has called on the Federal Government to urgently approve and pay health workers their delayed emoluments.

According to the PSN, the payment, which has been pending for over 12 years, is due to government’s failure to fulfil its pledge to the workers.

Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of PSN, Pharm. Babayemi Oyekunle, gave the charge during a chat with Pharmanews, at the recent Annual Luncheon of the Society, held at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

Oyekunle urged the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, to hasten processes that will speed up payment of the health workers’ entitlements.

He made the call on the heels of the FG’s failure to pay the ten-and-a-half months adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) to health workers, under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), as done for the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), since 2 January, 2012.

Oyekunle, who expressed the grievances of JOHESU members, pharmacists inclusive, on the several failures of government in fulfilling its agreement with the group, said there is an impending plan to disrupt healthcare services across the country, if there is no immediate action to address the issue.

He said: “The PSN Lagos State Branch finds it necessary to once again call on the Federal Government to hasten processes that will catalyse the approval and payment of benefits of health workers under the aegis of JOHESU, with regards to the adjustment of CONHESS, as done for CONMESS since January 2, 2012, a whopping twelve and a half years ago. Government must actualise these payments before avoidable strike actions, which often disrupt healthcare services in hospitals, become a reality yet again.

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“The increasing restlessness which has encouraged mobilisation of the various trade unions in JOHESU may be a hurricane too strong to quash as members continue to reflect on failed and broken promises across the entire fabric of successive administrations in the last 10 years.

“We, at Lagos PSN, are worried because information at our disposal confirms the reality of an impending 15-day ultimatum that may be served on the Federal Government, which will cause a collapse and breakdown of services in all the 57 federal tertiary institutions.

“We strongly urge the Honourable Minister for Health, Prof. Ali Pate, to step up consultations to nip this ugly situation in the bud before it materialises.”

Oyekunle also hailed the historic abolition of the training of pharmaceutical technologists in Nigerian institutions by the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the National Board for Technical Education, saying it was long overdue. He stressed that pharmaceutical technologists’ training lacks the required clinical content to make them operate under the regulations of the PCN.

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The Lagos PSN chairman noted that this clinical content deficit is a major reason the pharmaceutical technologists cadre has never been recognised by any relevant establishment schemes of service in Nigeria.

“Pharmaceutical technologists do not have a clinical DNA, by nature of what the training provides as a result of which they have no place in the health system,” Oyekunle maintained.

Expressing his sympathy for those inadvertently affected by the policy, he urged management of tertiary institutions in Nigeria to offer students who are willing to change their course the opportunity of choosing approvable programmes of study.

“We appreciate the pains of some students and parents who apparently did not reckon with the already stated facts and we solicit that the schools of training offer those who are willing an opportunity to change their courses to other approvable programmes of study,” the Lagos PSN boss said.

For others who have graduated with the pharmaceutical technology degree, Oyekunle encouraged them to embrace relevant update programmes which might position them for employment in pharmaceutical industrial settings or related fields. Pharmaceutical Technology, it must be said is more of a postgraduate programme in Pharmacy.

“We encourage the PCN to actualise the horizon of fellowship it recently entrenched in pharmacy laws through compelling the membership of pharmacy technicians on the governing council of the PCN.

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“Pharmacists must lead the way in boosting the reach, career growth and prospects of pharmacy technicians across board to enable pharmacy practice assume global best practices.

“The Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) must also continue to support pharmacy technicians who are willing to upgrade or step up to become pharmacists to have a seamless experience in Nigeria,” Oyekunle stated.

In her address, the Chairman of the occasion, Pharm. (Mrs) Olayinka Oredola, emphasised the need for pharmacists to continuously distinguish themselves in the healthcare continuum by displaying superior knowledge and excellence in all they do. This, she said, will make them earn that recognition and respect they desire.

Reminding her colleagues that respect is not demanded but earned, Oredola charged them to be ready to elevate and increase the stakes intellectually, innovatively and through strategic thinking and leadership.

The chairman further stated that, in today’s world, pharmacists must leverage technology, diversify and flex their expertise and intelligence in different spheres, as well as participate either actively or passively in politics, while ensuring strategic alliances and collaborations as they strive to excel in all their endeavours.

The event, which was graced by the bigwigs in the pharmacy profession in the state, saw the decoration of 38 pharmacists as Merit Award Winners, making the list of Merit Award Winners in the state to be 335.

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