By Job Osazuwa
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) have commended the Federal Government for including select pharmacies as vaccination centres against COVID-19.
In a statement jointly signed by the PSN president, Prof Cyril Usifoh, ACPN national chairman, Wale Oladigbolu and PSN national secretary Gbenga Falabi, the pharmacists said that the announcement made by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, as a right peg in a round hole. They said that the move was a welcome one if the target for vaccination of most Nigerians by December 2021 would be attained.
“The PSN, her technical arm and interest groups – the ACPN and the Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria (CPAN) respectively, have variously advocated this move. In readiness of this pronouncement, the ACPN had in her 39th and 40th annual scientific conferences in 2020 and 2021 at Abuja and Abeokuta respectively highlighted the gains in incorporating community pharmacies as public health centres for COVID-19 vaccination.
“This move to use pharmacies as vaccination centres is in consonance with WHO Astana 2018 commitments of making bold political choices for health across all sectors, building sustainable primary health care system and empowering individuals and communities towards ensuring healthy living. Pharmacists in Nigeria have observed for too long the low vaccination coverage in Nigeria, the under utilisation of skill, knowledge and preparedness of community pharmacists to extend their primary health care services and the attendant morbidity and mortality from vaccine preventable diseases. The prevalence of these vaccine preventable diseases in Nigeria is high while the vaccine coverage is abysmal.
“The percentage of people who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, for example, is currently at 2.9 per cent compared to a global average of 52.8 per cent, 27 per cent for South Africa and 7.7 per cent for Ghana,” the statement read in parts.
They stated that community pharmacists in Nigeria, like their counterparts in other parts of the world, have the requisite training and skill to aid vaccine uptake and administration across communities. The pharmacists stressed that the initiative was in alignment with global best practices, and called for the immediate implementation of the policy to reduce avoidable ill-health and death of Nigerians from vaccine preventable diseases.
They added: “The International Federation Pharmaceutical (FIP) and the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) have both promoted these emerging roles of pharmacists as primary health care giver is being integrated into the undergraduate training as clinical pharmacy degree, becomes the minimum qualification for pharmacists in Nigeria.