By Felicia Imohimi
The Federal Ministry of Health has charged the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) to ensure strict supervision and capacity building of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) to ensure quality pharmaceutical services.
Mrs Beauty Okologo, the Head of Pharmaceutical Services Division, Food and Drug Services Department of the ministry, gave the task on Thursday in Abuja at a stakeholders meeting geared toward review of the Approved Patent Medicines List (APML).
The meeting was organised by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria under the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PSN-PACFaH) @Scale in collaboration with the PCN.
Okologo explained that based on the Approved Patent Medicines List drawn from the 2016 Nigerian Essential Medicine List (EML), PPMVs were expected to stock and sell certain drugs to improve access by populace as well as address current reality in health.
Okologo, who identified PPMVs and Community Pharmacists (CPs) as critical private health sector players providing services to over 60 per cent of the populace, adding that constant supervision is required to ensure increased access to quality healthcare by the populace.
She further noted that such efforts would guard against stocking and sales of unethical drugs by the vendors which could endanger the lives of people.
“PPMVs are cadres that are lower than trained and licensed pharmacists so their capacity should be built. Monitoring and supervision of these cadre of practitioners is key, therefore regulatory bodies the PCN and NAFDAC should be up and doing,” she said.
According to her, access to this essential commodity would improve the health status of the people and reduce negative health indices.
Okologo however advised the PPMVs to work within their mandate, adding that working contrary to the law would amount to effort in futility.
“Patent medicine vendors should have it in mind that this measure is to ensure improved health of the masses and they should work within the mandate given to them otherwise the purpose will be defeated.
“I believe by the time the PPMVs see the positive side of government interventions those quacks that hawk drugs will be out of the game,’’ she noted.
Mr Ibrahim Ayuba, the Programme Director, PACFaH @scale, said the meeting was convened to ensure the PCN APML is strengthened to reflect current realities in the health space.
Ayuba said: “With the present mal-distribution and unacceptably inadequate number of health practitioners in public sector to meet the growing health needs of the populace there was urgent need to beam searchlight on private sector players which contribute over 60 per cent services.”
He, however, pledged the commitment of PSN-PACFaH @scale to support PCN, other government agencies and stakeholders to ensure increase access to quality healthcare services by Nigerians, especially those in hard-to-reach where CPs and PPMVs to domiciled.
He decried the deaths of over 111 women and girls of reproductive age daily in the country from preventable and avoidable pregnancy and child birth related causes as well as one in eight children dying before their fifth birthday.
According to him, when the private sector are properly trained, supervised and provided with right commodities they can provide quality services that will lead to drastic reduction in the nation’s maternal and child mortalities.
“Strengthening the PCN approved patent medicine list for PPMVs is among the first step toward achieving the goal of access to quality care to improve health outcomes and we are committed to support the council to achieve the set goal.
“I urge all stakeholders to bear in mind the lives of the most vulnerable women, children and girls in hard-to-reach communities. Let us put ourselves in their shoes and make recommendations that will lead to increase access and better health outcomes for all,” Ayuba said.
Mr Elijah Mohammed, the Registrar of PCN, noted that the council was collaborating with IntegratE project, an NGO, to build the capacity of CPs and PPMVs to improve access to affordable, quality Family Planning (FP) services.
Represented by Mrs Emily Olalere, the Director Pharmacy Practice, he said the goal of PCN-IntegratE project was also to provide a wider range of FP products such as injectable and implants and expand Primary Healthcare (PHC) services that should be provided by CPs and PPMVs.