EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE COURTESY VISIT TO THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HEALTH, DR. OSAGIE EHANIRE BY THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN AND LEADERS OF THE ASSOCIATION OF HOSPITAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE PHARMACISTS OF NIGERIA ON MONDAY, 12TH OCTOBER, 2020 IN HIS ABUJA OFFICE
The Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) applied for a courtesy visit to the Honourable Minister of Health early in the year 2020. The Minister graciously obliged AHAPN an appointment on Monday 12th October, 2020 in his Abuja Office.
The AHAPN delegation was led by the National Chairman, Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Amibor FPCPharm, past Chairman of AHAPN Pharm. Abdulaziz Idris, National Executive Committee member and current chairman Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Pharm. Jelili Kilani, and a past chairman of AHAPN FCT and current Head of Pharmacy Department, Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja, Pharm. Peter Enemarie. Others were Pharm. Peter Iliya, FPCPharm,, Director, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and Pharm. Chinelo Okonkwo Assistant Director Pharmaceutical Services (ADPS) National Hospital Abuja.
On the Honourable Minister’s entourage were the Honourable Minister himself, the outgoing Director Food and Drug Services at the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Pharm. Mashood Lawal FPSN, his next in command. Pharm. (Mrs) Ajayi, the Registrar of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, Dr. Elijah Mohammed FPSN, FNAPharm, FPCPharm, and some other senior officials of the Ministry.
In his address, the National Chairman of AHAPN, Dr. Kingsley Amibor commended the Honourable Minister and his team for successfully curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. He said the collaboration between the Ministry and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has resulted in the flattening of the curve for the disease and the saving of lives of millions of Nigerians, contrary to the predictions of leading global health bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO had earlier predicted massive deaths of Africans in millions from the effects of the Corona pandemic, but in reality, Nigeria’s case fatality rate did not rise above 2 %. The National Chairman then informed the Honourable Minister that about 50 pharmacists practicing in hospitals contracted the infection, unfortunately 3 of them died from the complications of the disease.
Dr. Amibor further briefed the Honourable Minister that Pharmacists as frontline healthcare workers were actively involved in producing millions of doses of hand sanitizers both individual packs and multi dose packs for use of wards and clinics. They also produced disinfectants such as sodium hypochlorite and detergents for use by staff and patients during the pandemic. Pharmacists were also involved in making personal protective equipment (PPE) available in hospitals, as well as drugs used in treating COVID-19 patients, including Azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine and others.
Thereafter, Dr. Amibor intimated the Honourable Minister with the main reasons for the visit. These included:
- Fast-tracking Implementation of the approved Consultancy cadre for Pharmacists, adding that there was need to grant pharmacists access to patients bedside so they can render quality pharmaceutical care seamlessly for the overall good of patients.
- Pharmaceutical Care and new Clinical Roles for Pharmacists in the healthcare sector. The national chairman informed the Honourable Minister that all over the world, new roles have emerged for pharmacists including public health, immunization procedures and so on. He said pharmacists are asking for the following:
- Approval of standardized structure for the proper involvement of clinical pharmacists in patient care, including routine ward rounds.
- Recognition of Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (PharmD) in the hospital setting, with enhanced entry point for holders and well defined job schedules to enable them practice pharmaceutical care to our teeming patients.
- Removal of career stagnation for pharmacists in public hospitals and university health centers
- Inclusion of pharmacists in training programmes organized by the Federal Ministry of Health.
- Employment of more pharmacists in the public service to facilitate provision of pharmaceutical care to our teeming patients.
- Upgrading of hospital compounding units to mini manufacturing units that can produce drugs locally in line with government policy of looking inwards and promoting local content. This has the capacity to reduce dependence on imported medicines and save the country scarce foreign exchange.
- Others were upward review of salaries of pharmacists, provision of adequate personal protective equipment for all pharmacists and other healthcare workers and improvement in existing infrastructure and remodeling of pharmacy departments in such a way to decongest the units, ensure effective crowd control and provide physical distancing for staff.
- The pharmacists also asked for payment of outstanding salaries and allowances including balance of April and May 2018 salaries and call duty relativity arrears for pharmacists.
- They equally asked for revamping of the Drug Revolving Fund (DRF) scheme which is currently not being properly managed, noting that out of stock syndrome was gradually returning to our hospitals. The National Chairman then requested for government assistance to enable tertiary health institutions clear their indebtedness to drug companies which is in excess of 3 billion naira.
- They also asked for inclusion of Pharmacists on the boards of tertiary health facilities as is the case with other professionals and for harmony in the Healthcare Sector, noting that disharmony in the healthcare sector often leads to strike actions which in turn fuels medical tourism with the resultant depletion of our hard earned foreign exchange.
Finally, the Association called for dismantling of the open drug maters littered all over the country which serve as ready source for fake and falsified medicines.
In recognition of his role in the control of the Corona pandemic, the Association announced their decision to confer an Award of Honour to the Honourable Minister of Health.
In his response, the Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire thanked the members of the Association for the visit, and condoled with the Association over the loss of her members to the Corona pandemic. He mentioned that a lot of the issues mentioned are administrative which the ministry will look into.
Concerning salaries and outstanding allowances of pharmacists and other healthcare workers, the Minister said they will carry out investigations to verify the authenticity of the out standings with a view to addressing it.
Commenting on the request to revamp the Drug Revolving Fund, Dr. Ehanire stated that the present arrangement whereby the DRF throws up huge debts in excess of 3 billion naira cannot be said to be ideal or cost effective. He charged pharmacists to examine the gaps in the entire supply chain and to come up with a proposal on how to make the DRF function more effectively and ensure continuous medicines availability in the country.
The Honorable Minister said the government was determined to close the open drug markets, adding that availability of land for building the coordinated wholesale centres was a challenge in some of the states, adding that the Ministry was in touch with the governors of the affected states on the need to make land available for the project. According to him, construction work has commenced in at least one of the states.
Regarding the issue of disharmony among professional groups in the healthcare sector, the Honourable Minister agreed there was a challenge but added that the Ministry will continue to talk to all professionals on the need to ensure a harmonious working relationship in the healthcare sector.
The Minister sad COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacies in our healthcare system, adding that there is need to put infrastructures in place in our health institutions, adding that the Corona pandemic has adversely affected the nation’s economy and health is not left out.
The Minister challenged pharmacists that in presenting their grievances to government, they should identify the problems and issues involved and suggest solutions to the identified challenges.
Thereafter, the National Chairman presented the Award to the Honourable Minister who expressed his appreciation to the Association for the award
Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Amibor B.Pharm, PharmD, MPH, FPCPharm
National Chairman AHAPN