Manpower shortage of community pharmacists worries professionals
Ray Ozolua, a professor at the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Benin (UNIBEN), has decried the yawning gap of available community pharmacists in the country, saying that not more than 220 local government areas out of 774 have at least a community pharmacist.
Ozolua, who delivered a keynote address at the 2021 annual summit of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) in Benin City, said the figure of registered pharmacists, both dead and alive, stands at 28,500 as at December 31, 2020.
The don said in Nigeria it is one pharmacist to 13,000 as against the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of one pharmacist to 2,000 population.
As a result, he said inadequate professionals in the health sector has led to poor healthcare delivery, avoidable disabilities and deaths, and encroachment in another profession’s territory.
“Nigeria is poor in health indices and some of the health sector challenges are unavailable and inaccessible healthcare system, out-of-pocket expenditures and shortage of healthcare providers,” Ozolua said.
In his keynote lecture titled, “The expanding roles of community pharmacists in primary healthcare,” he said community pharmacists are stakeholders in healthcare and must expand their roles to include components of primary healthcare centre.
The university teacher stressed that community pharmacists are the health professionals most accessible to the public and should be recognised as primary healthcare providers.
Samuel Adekola, national chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), on his part, said Nigeria has limited numbers of pharmacists due to poor remuneration and little or no support from those in authorities which has led to brain drain of the practitioners.
Earlier, Duke Otite, Edo State chairman of the association appealed to the state government to be included in the governments’ healthcare plan through the Edo Health Insurance Scheme and Primary Healthcare participation which are key components of Universal Health Coverage.
Also speaking, Permanent Secretary of Edo State ministry of health, Osamwonyi Irowa, who was represented by Osa-Afe Onome, director of pharmaceutical services of the ministry, made a case for community pharmacists to be co-opted into the primary healthcare considering the roles they played in providing protective measures during the outbreak of Covid-19.