-As PSN prepares for 96th Annual Conference
President of the pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Professor Cyril Usifoh, has emphasised the importance of bridging existing gaps in the Nigerian health sector, as such is critical to optimal healthcare delivery and international best practice. He made the remark at the weekend, during a media briefing to herald the forthcoming 96th national conference of the PSN holding in Gombe from 30 October to 4 November, 2023.
One of the nagging issues addressed by Usifoh is the brain drain syndrome that has led to the exodus of over 6000 Nigerian pharmacists to foreign climes with better conditions of service. Lamenting the manpower deficit this has created in the health sector, Usifoh added that although remedial measures such as the new salary structure, the consultancy cadre and PCN Act are welcome developments, they are not enough to reverse the ugly trend. He therefore called on government and the relevant stakeholders to do more in that regard.
“Over the past 6 years, Nigeria has lost about 6,000 pharmacists to brain drain. This has left an enormous burden on the system as they are not being replaced fast enough and Nigerians are increasingly denied access to life and money saving pharmaceutical care which the pharmacist is best suited to provide.
“We acknowledge that a few steps like the new salary structure and consultancy cadre, together with the PCN Act are welcome but much more is needed to significantly reverse the trend,” he said.
The PSN President also lamented the abrupt collapse of the drug-revolving scheme due to the abuse and misappropriation of funds in some public hospitals in Nigeria, adding that the scheme remains a reliable method for “ensuring funding for medications and medical consumables in hospitals.”
On the numerous and undeniable benefits of this scheme to the Nigerian health sector, Usifoh said: “This drug revolving fund leads to availability of funds for both expansion of the stock capacity of the facility and repayment of the seed fund. Institutions where this model was practiced judiciously have great success stories to tell.”
While speaking on the adverse effects of the Nigerian economy on the health sector, Usifoh observed that the forex crisis as well as the health insurance inequity among Nigerians are issues that need to be urgently addressed so that majority of Nigerians can access quality healthcare without having to stress themselves financially.
“The health sector is not insulated enough from the challenges of the economy. While we acknowledge the significant improvement in the activities of the National Health Insurance Agency, we call for more urgency to scale up operations and bring more Nigerians under health insurance as out of pocket health expenditure is impoverishing more Nigerians,” he said.
Speaking about the forthcoming PSN Annual National Conference tagged “JEWEL CITY 2023”, Usifoh said: “We are excited to be going to Gombe because the state is taking advantage of its vantage geopolitical location to develop into a socioeconomic hub for northeast Nigeria.
“It is our intention to provide a platform on which some investors will interact with the state government to identify areas of mutually beneficial interactions.”