On Wednesday, 25th of September, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, while speaking at a press briefing organised by the society in Lagos to mark the 2013 World Pharmacists Day, called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently reconstitute the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN). He lamented that the non-existence of the Council for almost ten years has negatively affected the practice environment of pharmacy in the country.
Pharm. Akintayo disclosed that it has been impossible to successfully prosecute any erring pharmacist or pharmaceutical company because the PCN, which is statutorily saddled with the responsibility, has been in abeyance.
The PSN helmsman noted that the absence of a governing council in a strategic profession like pharmacy only helps to aggravate the fake drug syndrome in the country. According to the PSN president, other statutory functions of the PCN, like the accreditation of training facilities for pharmacists and support staff in pharmacy are also affected.
We cannot but deplore the unjustified delay in reconstituting the PCN, considering the important role it is expected to play in the pharmaceutical sector. It must be stated that the PCN is an agency of government created by an Act of Parliament (Act 91 of 1992) and is mandated by law to regulate pharmacy practice in all its aspects and ramifications.
To have such an important agency, expected to play a crucial role in ensuring good health care delivery to Nigerians, stifled for almost ten years is not only wrong, it is unacceptable.
The Nigerian government should be leading by example in ensuring proper and complete compliance with our laws and in ensuring that agencies of government are able to discharge their duties.
Perhaps, if the PCN had been able to function, as stipulated by law, it would have been able to squarely tackle and surmount the myriads of challenges facing the pharmacy profession in Nigeria. It must be emphasized that the Nigerian people are the worst affected by the inability of the PCN to function and perform creditably.
It is our view that quality health care delivery is impossible without quality medicines. Thus, for the government agency saddled, in part, with the responsibility of ensuring that pharmacists and pharmaceutical premises operate in accordance with the law to be comatose for a long time is not only sad, but also unacceptable.
It is imperative for the Nigerian government to empower and help ensure the PCN effectively discharges its statutory duties. The council must be able to halt the impunity that has been going on in the illegal open drug markets across the country for years. This is because, while the law forbids the sale of drugs in any place not duly licensed or registered by the PCN, traders operating in these markets have continued to trade in drugs, in the face of the impotence of the PCN.
We need a very strong and operationally efficient PCN to consistently ensure that pharmacists in Nigeria and pharmaceutical establishments and institutions are law-abiding,and having a properly constituted council is crucial to achieving this.
We, therefore, support the call of the PSN for an urgent reconstitution of the PCN. We also back the society in its call for compliance with the enabling act that stipulated and provided for perpetual succession of the council.