Gombe, Nigeria – October 26, 2023 – The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has issued a pressing call to the Federal Government of Nigeria to swiftly reconstitute the Governing Board of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and reintroduce funding for the council. This appeal comes ahead of the PSN’s 96th annual national conference, scheduled to be held in Gombe, Gombe State, from October 30 to November 4, 2023.
The PSN, during a recent press conference, highlighted the numerous challenges faced by local pharmaceutical manufacturers in ensuring medicine security and achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The organization also provided insightful solutions to tackle these issues.
The theme of the upcoming conference, named “JEWEL CITY 2023,” is centered around “Pharmacy Practice: A Pivot to Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.”
Professor Cyril Odianose Usifoh, President of PSN, stressed the urgency of reconstituting the Governing Board of the PCN. He pointed out that the non-appointment of the PCN Chairman, who is also the Chairman of the disciplinary tribunal of the council, hampers the ability to enforce sanctions on errant pharmacists and other members of the pharmacy workforce and pharmaceutical companies.
Usifoh emphasized the need for individuals of high moral character and an impeccable track record of service to be appointed as Chairman and members of the PCN Governing Board. The council plays a crucial role in areas such as education/training, pharmacy practice, and disciplinary matters. However, without a functional governing board, these mandates cannot be realized, leading to potential lapses in the accreditation of training facilities and regulation of pharmacy practice.
Pharmacy practice directly impacts the daily health of consumers, and issues such as drug and substance abuse, unregistered pharmaceutical premises, counterfeit drugs, and the associated health risks demand immediate attention.
Usifoh cited the inadequate funding of regulatory councils of professional bodies, leading to over 200 million unregistered pharmaceutical premises, over 35 open drug markets, and rampant drug abuse, particularly among the youth and women.
He reminded the government of its legal obligation under Section 9(1) of the PCN Act 2022 to provide budgetary and extra-budgetary allocations to the PCN, making it unlawful and illegal to withhold allocations to the council.
The PSN further highlighted that Nigeria has experienced a significant brain drain in the pharmaceutical sector, losing approximately 6,000 pharmacists over the past six years. This loss places a substantial burden on the healthcare system and restricts access to essential pharmaceutical care.
To address these challenges, Usifoh recommended several measures, including the creation of special funding for local pharmaceutical manufacturers, building trust in locally produced pharmaceuticals, implementing more corrective than punitive regulations, improving basic amenities, reducing import duties, and enhancing economic conditions to lower production costs.
Usifoh emphasized the critical role of local pharmaceutical manufacturing in ensuring medicine security, Universal Health Coverage, and self-sufficiency in healthcare. The PSN’s call to reconstitute the PCN Governing Board and support local manufacturing aims to secure a healthier and wealthier future for Nigeria.
Usifoh’s message was clear: a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Supporting local manufacturing in Nigeria is not just about healthcare but also about economic independence and national security. It’s a call for comprehensive action to secure the future health and prosperity of the nation. The annual PSN conference serves as a catalyst for change, offering a platform for the government, industry stakeholders, and the public to come together to chart a path towards a more robust, secure, and accessible pharmaceutical sector.
The upcoming Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria conference in Gombe offers a platform to discuss and strategize solutions that will improve the country’s pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, ultimately benefiting the nation’s well-being and economy.