From Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Lack of recognition and poor remuneration has forced Pharmacists to flee the country for better life abroad thereby hampering health delivery in the country.
National chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Samuel Adekola, stated this yesterday while speaking at the 2021 summit of the Association in Benin City.
“In Nigeria, as we speak, we have limited number of Community Pharmacists particularly in the communities and the only reason for this is because of brain drain and that is because Nigeria has not given Pharmacists particularly those in the communities the kind of recognition, remuneration, support that will make them to stay.
“Take for example, just some few months ago during the COVID-19, the Prime Minister of UK, Boris Johnson, approved £300m for Community Pharmacists as a support to them during the COVID-19 but in Nigeria it is not so”, he said.
Corroborating Adekola’s view, a Professor of Pharmacology, University of Benin, Ray Ozolua, said there are 28,500 (both dead and alive) Pharmacists in Nigeria as at 31st December, 2020.
Delivering a keynote address titled, “The expanding roles of Community Pharmacists in Primary Healthcare”, at the event, Prof. Ozolua said the number of available Pharmacists do not commensurate with the population growth, therefore creating yawning gaps in the system against the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended one Pharmacist to 2,000 population.
He said the reverse is the case in Nigeria where it is one Pharmacist to 13,000 persons.
“As at 31st December, 2020, we had 28,500 Pharmacists in Nigeria both dead and alive, 15,000 renewed their licenses, 75,000 physicians, 270,000 nurses/midwives.
“Not more than 220 LGAs out of 774 have at least a Community Pharmacy; retail pharmacies, 4,447, wholesale/distribution pharmacies, 1,396, manufacturing companies, 134 while importation companies, 553”, he said.
Ozolua stressed that the importance of Community Pharmacists cannot be overemphasized as they serve as the first point of call to patients.
He charged Pharmacists to see the doctors as co-partners in the health sector rather than rivals as they discharge their duty of saving lives.
Permanent Secretary, Edo State Ministry of Health, Dr. Osamwonyi Irowa, represented by the Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Ministry of Health, Osa-Afe Onome, recommended that due to the numerous roles played by the Community Pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic, they should be incorporated into the Primary Healthcare Providers.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Chairman, ACPN, Edo State chapter, Mr. Otite Duke, said the Community Pharmacists have been the unsung heroes of Primary Healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
He said this was very visible in recent times during the COVID-19 pandemic where most health institutions “closed shops” leaving the Public Healthcare with the Community Pharmacist as the only available option to provide healthcare services.
Duke said it is only recently that the government started looking at the Primary Healthcare Centres to revamp them from the ashes of collapse by setting up of the National and State Primary Healthcare Development Agency.