– Says association’s labelling machine to be launched at forthcoming conference
Worried by the challenge of medicine insecurity in the country, which it says is being driven by such factors as poor local production capacity, inefficient distribution network, regulatory issues and financial constraints, the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has made a renewed call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to shut down all open drug markets in the country.
The call was made at a press conference to herald the 42nd Annual Scientific Conference of the association, tagged “The Big Heart Conference” and scheduled to hold from 31 July to 4 August 2023, in Asaba, Delta State.
Speaking at the event, ACPN National Chairman, Pharm. Adewale Oladigbolu, described medicine insecurity as the inadequate availability, accessibility and affordability of essential medications to the population, adding that it is a matter of serious concern that affects the well-being and security of Nigerians.
Speaking further, Oladigbolu lamented that while Nigeria boasts of vast resources, it is disheartening to witness the detrimental effects of medicine insecurity on the country. He stressed that medicine insecurity, as well as compromised public health, directly impacts the health of the citizens, particularly those with chronic illnesses and vulnerable populations.
“The unavailability of essential medications can lead to worsening health conditions, prolonged suffering and, in severe cases, irreversible damage or even loss of life. It also hampers disease prevention efforts, causing the spread of communicable diseases and exacerbating public health crises,” he said.
Oladigbolu, who noted the importance of community pharmacists’ services to universal health coverage, remarked that the continued existence of open drug markets across the country is an obstacle to achieving UHC. He averred that the markets are not giving any value to the citizens, as their products are neither regulated nor stored under the recommended temperature.
According to him, “If a country does not like us as a nation, all they need to do is to dump one widely used product that is tainted into the open drug markets. Once it is distributed nationwide, the result would be needless deaths across the country. In fact, many are dying of liver disease, kidney failure and many others today from consumption of products that do not pass through regulatory scrutiny before getting to the market.
“Also, so many expired products are being revalidated, with dangerous impact on the healthcare of the patients. It is the political will to do the right thing that we had been lacking; but now that we have a new government in place, we do hope that the courage they are showing towards repositioning the economy would be extended to healthcare by closing down all the open drug markets once and for all.”
The ACPN head further stated that if the open drug markets are closed today, there are credible alternatives, especially with the availability of technology tools to distribute to the nooks and crannies of the country. He added that the closure would set the pharmaceutical sector in the right direction, as the monopoly which the open drug market is enjoying will be broken, making drugs cheaper, with a better assurance of quality.
While speaking on the upcoming ACPN conference, Oladigbolu disclosed that this year’s theme “Building Effective Community Pharmacy Services For Universal Health Coverage” is apt, saying community pharmacists play a vital role in promoting public health and well-being. He added that their services go beyond dispensing medications as they serve as trusted healthcare providers within communities, offering valuable advice, counselling, and preventive care.
The number one community pharmacist observed that with Universal Health Coverage becoming a global priority, it is essential to recognise the significant contributions of community pharmacists and explore ways to enhance their services.
He also stated that the conference will bring together renowned experts, policymakers, and community pharmacy representatives to discuss so many key areas in the health sector.
“We also hope to highlight the significance of digital health in the practice of community pharmacy and how it can revolutionise the way we deliver healthcare services to our community, and we are hoping to launch the labelling machine at this conference,” he said.
Other personalities at the press briefing included Pharm. Ambrose Ezeh Igwekanma, national secretary, ACPN; Pharm. (Rev.) Daniel Ajayi, chairman, Conference Planning Committee; Pharm. Grace Ikani, vice-chairman, CPC, and Pharm. Bayo Ajiboye, member, CPC.