PRESS STATEMENT BY THE ASSOCIATION OF HOSPITAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE PHARMACISTS OF NIGERIA (AHAPN)
ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR IN NIGERIA
ISSUED TODAY 17TH JUNE, 2020
Gentlemen of the Press,
We warmly welcome you to this Press Brieﬁng. We are executives and members of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN). AHAPN is the umbrella of all pharmacists that practice in hospitals, clinics and regulatory agencies like the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), NAFDAC, Federal Ministry of Health, (FMOH), military, paramilitary hospitals and so on. AHAPN has over 5000 members in tertiary, secondary, and primary health institutions spread across the country.
AHAPN has watched with keen interest, the recent happenings in the health care sector in Nigeria, suffice it to say that some of these issues have been unattended to since 2014 and this has led to the increase in the entropy in the health sector as we are witnessing today. For the avoidance of doubt these issues include but not limited to the following:
- Adjustment to the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS)
- Payment of Arrears of Call Duty Relativity
- Payment of COVID-19 Hazard Allowance
- Non availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for pharmacists and other healthcare workers (HCWs)
- Withheld April and May 2018 Salary arrears for Pharmacists and some category of healthcare workers
- Refusal of government to register AHAPN as an Independent Trade Union
- Non invitation and inclusion of Pharmacists in Negotiating Team with Government
- Restructuring of the healthcare sector for greater efficiency
Adjustment of the CONHESS as was done for CONMESS:
The Federal Government in 2014, over 6 years ago, adjusted the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) table for medical doctors and has since adjusted the CONMESS twice without any single adjustment to the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) table for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. It is worthy of note that in 2008, there was a job evaluation in the healthcare sector in this country which gave rise to the CONHESS and CONMESS, taking into cognizance, relativity in salary and allowances; a recommendation that was intended to reduce the level of acrimony in the health care sector. Sadly, this recommendation was partially adopted with the adjustments to the CONMESS Table without relative adjustment of the CONHESS Table.
We call on government to do the needful, which is, immediate adjustment of CONHESS as has been continuously canvassed by pharmacists and other healthcare workers, in order to avoid needless strike actions and disruptions in service delivery in the healthcare sector.
Payment of arrears of Call Duty approved since 2014:
Virtually every other healthcare professional with the exception of very few and pharmacists who practice in about 20 federal health institutions in the country have not been paid the arrears to date. We have written several letters to government on this issue without any positive response yet. We call upon government to release these arrears since it was captured in the 2020 Budget and provisions have been made for it.
COVID-19 enhanced Hazard Allowance and the Nonavailability of PPE
We appreciate the government on the efforts being made to contain the Corona pandemic in the country, however we must state that pharmacists and other healthcare workers are getting infected every day because of lack of basic personal protective equipment (PPE). We call on government to provide adequate PPEs for pharmacists and other healthcare workers who are at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic control efforts.
Additionally, we wish to remind government to honour her decision of paying enhanced hazard allowance to healthcare workers since March, 2020. This pronouncement has not translated into tangible result yet. For proper motivation of healthcareworkers, we call on the Federal Government and other states in the federation who have made similar promises, to pay healthcare professionals the enhanced allowance.
Withheld April and May 2018 arrears of Salary
Pharmacists are law abiding professionals who are always willing to save lives. We are not strike mongers neither are we quick to use strike as a bargaining tool. We want to use this medium to draw the attention of government to these protracted issues that have demotivated pharmacists in the discharge of their duties of care to millions of Nigerians. The FG should look at a holistic way of solving the myriads of problems of the healthcare sector instead of the current piecemeal approach that is cosmetic, shallow and creates more problems at the end of the day.
Refusal of government to register AHAPN as an Independent Trade Union
AHAPN has applied severally to government for registration as a trade union for over ten years without success. About 2011, we were granted provisional registration as a trade union by Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, but for some inexplicable reasons, our registration was withdrawn. All efforts by AHAPN to get full registration since then proved abortive, with government preferring to lump us together with the amorphous Nigerian Union of Pharmacists, Medical Technologists and Professions aligned to Medicine (NUPMTPAM) in a marriage of convenience. NUPMTPAM later metamorphosed to Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP). NUPMTPAM is a creation of government which has not represented pharmacists’ interest and welfare fully, rather under her watch, welfare and professional interests of pharmacists has taken a back bencher. No Pharmacist has held any significant position of influence in NUPMTPAM to date. This is the basis of agitation of hospital and administrative pharmacists for the registration of our independent Pharmacists Trade Union. To buttress our point, about a week or two ago, government invited professional groups in the healthcare sector for dialogue on payment of hazard allowance and sundry issues. All the major professional groups in the healthcare sector were represented with the exception of pharmacists. Pharmacists were conspicuously missing from the negotiations. Neither our parent body- the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) nor AHAPN was invited to that meeting. This is how pharmacists have been shortchanged and marginalized in the past ten years or so and we are saying: Enough is Enough, we certainly cannot continue like this any longer. We demand the registration of a Pharmacists Trade Union that will adequately represent the interests of pharmacists in Nigeria with immediate effect.
Non invitation and inclusion of Pharmacists in Negotiating Team with Government
We wish to register our displeasure over the non-inclusion of pharmacists at the recent meeting between the government and representatives of the different unions in the healthcare sector, for which pharmacists were conspicuously left out of the negotiations without any reason whatsoever. We find this action distasteful and inimical to the much canvassed harmonious working relationship in the healthcare sector and we hope the ugly incident will not repeat itself in future.
Pharmacists are not just frontline workers, but indispensable players in the healthcare sector whose roles ranging from research, drug production, distribution, availability, use, pharmaceutical care and monitoring cannot be assumed by any other professional group.
In conclusion, we hereby call on the Federal Government to urgently address the issues raised in this Press Statement, especially the issue of registration of an independent Trade Union for Pharmacists and all others, for the sake of equity, peace, harmony in the healthcare sector and continued service delivery to the good people of Nigeria.
Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Amibor PharmD, MPH, FPCPharm
National Chairman AHAPN
Dr. Hafiz Ola Akande PharmD
National Secretary AHAPN