By Ovat Abeng
Pharmacists are greatly worried that the lack of control of drug distribution in Nigeria which they say is in a chaotic state has continued to increase medicine insecurity in Nigeria.
This anxiety and proffering solutions to the problem especially in Anambra state formed the major focus of discussions, lectures, speeches, and research paper presentations at the thirtieth Annual Scientific Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Anambra State Branch, in Awka, over the weekend.
The theme, “Challenges and implications of medicine insecurity in a chaotic drug distribution system: The role of pharmacists”, speakers at the conference highlighted the indices of medicine insecurity to include scarcity and unavailability of essential and lifesaving medications, widespread circulation of counterfeit, fake, adulterated, and unwholesome medicines and the prevalence of open drug markets which are all at embarrassing levels in the country.
They said that the situation will remain unabated until policy makers, industry stakeholders, and other health professionals recognize and include pharmacists in the scheme of things to manage the challenges faced in the medical system in Nigeria.
Leading the park in proffering solutions to the medicine insecurity challenge and in addressing the chaotic drug distribution system in Nigeria, a public health advocate and immediate past chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch, Pharm. Chima Ogbu, in a keynote speech, stated that because public health crises do not recognize social classes, the solutions and the implementation of Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria Act 2022 must be carried out without pandering to personal, group, or sectional interests.
Pharmacist Ogbu, who insisted that drugs can never be food and must only be administered by a professional, called on the Federal Government to set up a national body that will be responsible for gathering and sharing information on demands for and supply of medicines in the country.
In their separate speeches, the National President of PSN, Prof. Cyril Usifoh and the Chairman of the Occasion, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo underscored the critical roles of pharmacists in addressing the state of the health sector in the country and emphasized that they must consciously and subconsciously support the implementation of policies developed to address unguarded and uncontrolled drug distribution.
On the part of the Anambra State government, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike reassured the commitment of the Governor Chukwuma Soludo administration to ensuring that the Coordinated Wholesale Centre, Oba and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Hub, Ogboji take off soon while expressing hope that when fully operational, the centre and the hub will greatly address the challenges of open drug market distribution not just in the state but in the South East region as a whole.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Anambra State Chapter, Pharm. Josephat Obasi explained that the scientific conference which is in its thirtieth edition celebrates the excellence in the pharmacy profession in the state while expressing hope that the solutions advocated by the speakers at the conference will be properly applied and given the political will to reshape the public health status of Nigeria.