Health News

Shortage of pharmacists hits Nigeria- PCN

By Hassan Zaggi

The Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN), has disclosed that Nigeria lacks sufficient pharmacists who should be in charge of safe and effective medication use in the country.

The Registrar of the Council, Pharm. Elija Mohammed, who disclosed at a media interactive forum organised by the Nigeria Health Watch and some members of a consortium in Abuja, also revealed that majority of young women (<25 years) obtain their Family Planning (FP) methods from Community Pharmacists (CPs) and Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs).

The interaction was aimed at disclosing to the media the progress so far made by the IntegratE Project since its inception four years ago.

The project is being championed by a consortium which is headed by the Society for Family Health (SFH).

According to Pharm/ Mohammed: “The National Bureau of Statistics discloses that there is indeed 1 pharmacist for every 10,000 Nigerians even though in actual fact there are fewer licensed and practicing pharmacists in-country.

“The status of the primary healthcare system as at today has created an overburden on the private health sector and made more prominent the informal healthcare.

“The Community Pharmacies (CPs) and Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) shops are usually the first point of accessing primary health care (PHC) for most Nigerian populace.

“This situation is more pronounced in the rural and underserved areas. The private sector accounts for 58% of health services provision, including child-related health services, with drug shops and pharmacists comprising 40% of the private healthcare sector and 83% of all child health care services in Nigeria. Majority of young women (<25 years) also obtain their Family Planning (FP) methods from CPs and PPMVs.”

Over the past four years, he said, PCN in collaboration with the IntegratE project and other stakeholders has worked to improve the contribution of private health sector providers – especially- Community Pharmacists (CP) and Patent Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) in the healthcare delivery system.

Speaking on the progress so far made by the project, the representative of Head of Consortium Partners, Dr. Omokhudo Idogho, disclosed that the IntegratE project which is co-funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for mothers aims to improve the quality of Family Planning Services delivered by Community Pharmacists (CPs) and Patent and Proprietary Medicines Vendors (PPMVs) in underserved areas of Lagos and Kaduna States, through the implementation of a PCN approved tiered accreditation system that will support efficient and quality service delivery.

“Working as a team over the last 4 years we have made considerable progress. We were able to deliver high impact trainings on Family planning to private sector providers in these two states, we also worked with the states ministries of health in the two states to institute monitoring and supervisory framework to ensure quality service.

“The project also successfully developed a demand creation, reporting and referral systems aimed at strengthening family planning service delivery at the community level. Furthermore, we partnered with the FMOH to facilitate the transition of the data to the national reporting platform.

“We continue to support the PCN to improve it regulatory capacity through the deployment of ICT. These modest achievements continue to drive the development and institutionalization of enabling policies for greater involvement of the private sector in healthcare provision,” he said.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu, said that IntegrateE is a project that is keen at ensuring that the informal private sector is carried along in the administration of family planning commodities in the country.

According to her: “We have seen the results in Kaduna and Lagos. If we can scale this, critically bringing the informal private sector and enable them to administer family planning services so they can support the public healthcare sector.

“It also highlights gaps we have in our health system and healthcare workers in our communities, also alerting Nigerians to our rising population. We have a very high birth rate which is not sustainable.

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