From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Cross River Government Health Inspection Task Force has embarked on rapid response campaign aimed at clamping down on fake drugs peddlers and quack healthcare personnel across the state.
The task force inaugurated on September 19, 2020, by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Beta Edu, was mandated, among others things, to translate the governor’s health industry road map into visible action as well as helping genuine health practitioners to improve on their quality of care while removing the quacks and fake products from the system.
The task force made up of experts form various health sector, include Dr Itam Essien, Director of Medical And Dental Services in the state (DMDS), Dr Eyo Nsa, Director of Pharmaceutical Services in the state, Dr Pauline Obute, Director of Nursing Services in the state, Mrs Nkang Magdalene, Mr Casmir Ugbong (DPRS – SMOH), Director of Medical Laboratory Services in the state, Mrs Nkang Magdalene, (DPRS – SMOH), Mr Joseph Akem Ingwu (DEHS/P); and Dr Ekanem, Director of Servicom in the state.
Speaking with reporters after inspecting some of the private clinics in Calabar on Wednesday, the Chairman of the task force, Dr Ushie David, said the taskforce derives its facility checklist from both state and national healthcare regulatory documents for all healthcare professional groups: doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists and technologists.
Dr Ushie, a consultant pathologist of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, said the system clean up will allow the qualified facilities and enable them strive to improve on their quality delivery and enable them meet up the State Social Health Insurance Scheme (AYADECARE) and the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) of the NHIS standards for participation as service providers in the scheme.
The task force Chairman disclosed that his team has received a good number of complaints from members of the public regarding activities of quack practitioners and complaints of questionable deaths, adding that the taskforce has carried out series of tapid responses in some local governments areas from where such reports came from.
He decried the situation where unscrupulous elements come in from neighbouring states to provide killer ‘surgical operations’ and fake or adulterated health products to the unsuspecting urban and rural people, calling on members of the public to report such illegal activities and some suspected healthcare personnel or quacks to the taskforce for investigations and appropriate actions.
‘Our focus is to provide a just and equitable platform in the oversight function of the government. Our findings have been very chilling but would not comment on their details publicly due to legal and safety requirements,’ he said.
‘We warn that all health facility owners should approach the State Ministry of Health and process the required approvals for their business premises. Failure to do so, he said, such facilities risk automatic shot down or prosecution or both. We would soon make phone numbers and other contacts available for members of the public to report defaulters and whistle blowers on quacks,’ he stated.
Reacting to the activities of the inspection task force, the commissioner for Health, Dr Beta Edu, said one of the goals of the exercise is to help genuine health practitioners to improve in their quality of care while removing the quacks and fake products from the system.
She decried the proliferation of unregistered and unregulated hospitals as well as other stand-alone facilities such as pharmacy/chemists, laboratories, nursing or maternity homes, opthalmic and physiotherapy homes, lamenting that some of those facilities simply opened their shops without clearance from both the govt and the relevant regulators.
The commissioner said Cross Riverians deserve better than the current situation which is struggling under the chokehold of quacks, expressing satisfaction and confidence in the committee as they have the capacity to tackle some othe issues headlong.
Some of the health facility registration steps made available to journalists include CAC registration, CRS-IRS TIN (for both the facility and all staff), Ministry of Health inspection application and it’s payment (whether initial or repeat visitations), and the possession of verifiable professional qualifications with the current practice licenses by the relevant staff categories.
It was learnt that the same processes applies to every separate branch of the hospital/clinics, pharmacies/chemists, nursing homes, physiotherapy homes and medical laboratoriess else their business license permit would be withdrawn.
While explaining the outcome of the inspection visits, Dr Essien stated that facilities will usually fall into 4 categories based on the checklist administered to them which he listed as;
(a) 3 months (remedial) status, (b) 1 year provisional approval,
(c) 2 years full accreditation or; (d) shot down.
While the first 3 are revisited for renewal of accreditation status from time to time, the last category is delisted from the CRS register and monitored to avoid any form of healthcare services or medical practice.