It was a gruelling and embittered walk as members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) took a journey recently to press home their demand for the implementation of signed agreements with government. To what extent the issues at stake are resolved or not, will not preclude the fact that the health care system in Nigeria leaves so much to be desired. Meanwhile as the body of community pharmacists in the land gather to deliberate at the 37th edition of the Annual National Confab of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) in Benin, the salient issues linger on. In this interview, PharmaTimes Editor, MORGAN NWANGUMA engages the outgoing National Publicity Secretary of ACPN, Pharm. Chima A. Ogbu (also a strong candidate for the next chairmanship position) on these and related matters.
For those of us who’ve been active on social media as well as following ACPN activities, it is clear that you are resolutely intent on becoming the next ACPN Chairman. What exactly would you say is the main thrust of your campaign?
The main thrust of my campaign for the Chairmanship of ACPN is well aligned with the vision of ACPN, which is to create a community where every person is able to access quality, cost effective and timely pharmaceutical care, by building the capacity of every Community Pharmacist in Nigeria in this regard, while collaborating with other health care providers, policy makers, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders in the best interest of the populace.
We are prepared to do this with our 4Ps Agenda of progress for ACPN which focuses on our Practice (P1), Process (P2), Policy (P3) and our Politics (P4). These 4Ps are sacrosanct to my campaigns and constitute my leadership charter for ACPN. It’s an on going journey towards excellence as we celebrate our 37th anniversary with the EDO2018 national conference. To capture our journey on the spectrum of progress is for me both exciting and inspiring. As the national chairman of ACPN, I shall pursue my 4Ps agenda vigorously to address the challenges in our practice and profession with a view to protect, project and harmonise our common interests as Nigerian Community Pharmacists. As a leader, I prefer to see the opportunity in every challenge and exploit same for the growth and progress of my organisation (ACPN).
Obviously there is enormous ground still untouched in the nationwide immunisation campaign. In certain quarters it has been canvassed for pharmacists to also administer vaccines so as to attain the objectives. This was also captured as part of your ‘progress campaign’; how do you intend to achieve this if elected?
Yes, our Progress P1 agenda captures this public health imperative – Immunisation. The national programme on Immunisation is yet to attain maximal impact because of the structure and policy thrust that has excluded the most accessible health care professionals – Pharmacists. This is against the globally recognised trend and policy direction of WHO, which have recognised the involvement of Pharmacists as health care providers and certified immunisers in many countries. I have been a strong advocate for Pharmacists especially community Pharmacists – to be integrated into public health programmes in Nigeria for the desired impact. Immunisation remains one area our health system in Nigeria will achieve greater impact through the active participation of CPs.
The Progress team believes that we quickly need to grow significantly the number of community Pharmacists providing vaccinations in the Nigerian health care delivery space through a structured training programme that will grow our knowledge, skills and capacities as certified immunisers. At the same time, we shall step up efforts in collaboration with PSN, PCN, FMOH and other relevant agencies to secure the legal framework for the utilisation of these capacities. Today in the US, over 280,000 Pharmacists are now trained to administer up from 40,000 in 2007. This was made possible through the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy – Based Immunisation Delivery Certificate Training Programme (CTP). We plan to achieve a similar breakthrough in Nigeria in the days ahead with the support of all stakeholders in the health system and the government.
The lingering crises in the public health care service – leading to the recent JOHESU strike informs that one of the main agitations of the group, of which ACPN members are part of, is that for example, Pharmacists be permitted to work as consultants. What exactly would this mean?
First, we have to understand who a consultant is – both in general terms and in the Health sector. A consultant is described as one who provides expert advice professionally, or a professional who provides expert advice in a particular area such as security, management, engineering, education, accountancy, law, Pharmacy, medicine, human resources, marketing, finance, Science or any of many other specialised fields.
Coming home to the health sector where we operate as Pharmacists, it means any of the professionals that make up the health team can develop in knowledge and skills to an expert cadre in a particular field as Consultants. Today we have consultant Pharmacists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Laboratory scientists etc, in every area of healthcare delivery all over the world. Nigeria is part of the global health system and we cannot afford to be left behind in the training and utilisation of these health experts we call Consultants. It’s the best option for our socio-economic growth, progress and development.
With the way the NMA and JOHESU members have been throwing salvos at each other especially in the event of an industrial action such as the recent JOHESU-led strike, how can we ever hope to achieve a harmonious relationship in the public health sector?
A harmonious relationship is possible in the health sector between the NMA and JOHESU members when a regime of collaboration, teamwork, equity in remunerations and reward systems, and mutual respect for each other is enthroned. Today’s health care systems are designed with the patient as king. In Nigeria, we have been witnessing a defective health care system that elevates the interests of one professional group above the others and that of the patients; this is not acceptable. Our abysmal rating in the recent global health care assessment index can be linked to this anomalies and unending disputes in our health care sector. Nigeria with all its human and material resources is shamefully ranked 187th of the 190 countries assessed – well below Afghanistan and Somalia! The way forward is for all stakeholders and government to adopt, in the true sense, global best practices in the administration and management of our health care delivery system. The reward system must reflect equity. The Administration and headship of public health facilities must not be an exclusive right of medical doctors. Specialisation, capacity building and utilisation must be allowed to flourish among the health care professionals for the overall benefits of the patients and clients.
Focusing on the health sector generally, bearing in mind the current leadership structure at the (federal) Health Ministry, vis-à-vis the altruistic move of your campaign group to try and rescue the life of a colleague, Pharm. (Mrs.) Adeola Abigael Ojo, who happens to be a renal victim, in what ways do you think we can attain international best practice in the sector for the most harmonious and efficient health care delivery?
As a Rotarian, I do not wish to take any glory for initiating the Pharm. (Mrs.) Adeola Abigael Ojo’s 8.4 million naira fund raising – targeted at saving the life of a dear colleague with a serious health challenge. I believe in compassionate leadership, and at any level a leader must rise up to address the welfare needs of his people. I thank all Nigerian Pharmacists, the leadership and members of my ‘Progress’ campaign team, ACPN national chairman, exco and NEC members, CEO Miral Pharma, Pharm. Onyeka Onyibor, PSN President, national chairmen of our different technical and interest groups, Nigerian Pharmacists in the diaspora, gentlemen of the press and indeed all well meaning Nigerians for responding to this clarion call – materially and financially. God will reward us abundantly.
Plans have been concluded by the leadership of ACPN to hand over the over 5 million naira realised to the family for the surgery. With this, we must have restored hope to Abigael, and for many other Nigerians in her condition; our society can put in place a proper national health insurance policy that can address similar challenges. As National Chairman of ACPN, I will ensure the retooling of our welfare policy and prioritise the setting up of a disability and life insurance policy for members amongst other welfare packages.