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Pharmacists canvass improved funding for family planning system

Pharmacists in Lagos urge FG to institute consultant cadre for members, eligible health workers

Pharmacists in Nigeria have urged the government at all levels to key into a public-private partnership to improve funding for family planning and revitalize Nigeria’s healthcare service delivery system.

The medical experts stated this on Wednesday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, at the 38th annual scientific conference organized by the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, supported by the partnership for advocacy for child and family health and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Olalere Emile, a pharmacist and director programme coordinating department of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, submitted that the government has clearly stated that there is a need to engage the private sector in the family planning system and that is why the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria (PCN), initiated the programme.

“The PCN needs to reposition the patient medicine vendors and in doing that, the PCN came with a three-tier accreditation system, is a mechanism that looks at the accreditation of patient medicine vendors in the area of training and their facilities.

The tier system has taken cognizance in improvising their service delivery through training, the patient medicine vendor will have to undergo what we called the mandatory entry point programme and that will be done for four weeks is formal training.

“During that training, a lot of things are going to be done; we are going to train them on regulatory practices, we will train them on how to identify common illnesses in the community, how to use rapid diagnostic test for identify childhood diseases even COVID and the rest of them, with that capacity development, they will be able to provide effective family planning.

“The patient medicine vendors have been certified into three groups each of them will be trained according to the level of service we require them to provide.

Tier one, which is the lowest level will not provide implant injectables but tier two will do that because they have health training recognized by the PCN and tier three are graduates of pharmacy technician institutions who have what it takes to provide family planning space, injectables and implants that is why their capacity is being developed in this direction and community pharmacy capacity is also being developed in this direction.”

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She added that task shifting, the policy of the federal ministry of health, is a service that should be provided by the private sector, which are reproductive and family planning, HIV services, TB services maternal and child health will be provided.

The federal ministry of health, according to her, has made provision that if these people are going to be provided with these services, their capacity needs to be strengthened saying, “we have a partnership with NGOs and others helping to strengthen their capacity for the effective services delivery.”

Also speaking, Ibrahim Babaseu Ahmed, also a pharmacist and director, planning research and statistics, Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, posited that health financing requires government and stakeholders in the private sector, NGO and other philanthropists to continue to talk to themselves, have a good understanding, particularly the government engaging them on the challenges, the inadequate resources, bring their interest on board and have their support to ensure that we achieve universal health coverage.

“One of the key pillars, of course, is family health, having access to quality family planning care services which of course supposed to be undertaken by trained health professionals and appropriately regulated by the government and as well, adequately supervised by the government to ensure that quality health care service does not impact negatively on the citizens,” he said.

Sunday Aderigbigbe, consultant public health physician, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital and national vice president of Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, noted,
as part of the mandate of the association of public health physicians, “we are involved in all aspects of health, funding, health promotion, health prevention.
We feel that funding for health is not enough. If you agree with me, the percentage national budget dedicated to health is so small compared to the dwindling health indices of the populace.

“We feel that health financing is an integral part of this conference to raise the awareness of the policymakers, what they can do to make sure that health funding is an increase in this country so that the health indices of our people can be better off.”