The push for inject-able medication administration beyond immunization has increased and the momentum is building within the pharmacy profession across the world. This perhaps explains why pharmacists in Nigeria recently brought the idea on the front burner of professional discuss.
The New Pharma Frontier, a social media platform of Licensed Nigerian Pharmacists for purposes of interaction on matters that affect their profession and career came alive recently when contributors to the topic “The Administration of Drugs via Parenteral Routes by Nigerian Pharmacists,” bared their minds with patriotic zest.
No doubt the practice of pharmacy and the scope of pharmacy practice across the world have evolved significantly; the evolution according to experts has been driven by escalating costs in healthcare systems, identified gaps in patient care, and the need for patients to have access to timely healthcare services.
There is a sense in incorporating authorisation for injectable medications into expanded scope of pharmacists’ practice as is currently the norm in some developed countries across the world.
There is also the need to tap into the knowledge and skills of Nigerian Pharmacists as medication therapy experts and members of the healthcare team closest to the masses – to impact positively on the health of majority of Nigerians. This is where advocates of the topic scored a point.
A number of countries around the world like United States, Canada, and Australia among others may have foreseen the future gains in the engagement of pharmacists in drug administration, necessitating the wave of review of their laws to accommodate a certain degree of participation of community pharmacists in the administration of medicines in those countries.
But the deteriorating state of the health sector in Nigeria in all fronts occasioned by many years of neglect by successive administrations, and absence of enabling law have already put such a proposition in abeyance. Ordinarily, the inadequacy of healthcare professionals in public healthcare centres across the country would have made advocacy for authorising pharmacists to undertake the task of administering injectable medicines more compelling.
But ours is a society where there are little or no standards, and adherence to laid down policies are routinely flouted by those who don’t have any business venturing into critical areas of our national life.
Countries that have adopted this approach did so to make sure that their populations not only receive quality care, but also a timely access to professional intervention in saving lives when the need arises, and that ostensibly is the idea behind expanding the role of pharmacists.
There is no any strong reason to favour advocacy for the topic being debated by pharmacists at least for now and for obvious reasons. The Nigerian pharmacists have been at the forefront for actualising the PCN bill. They are also mounting enormous pressure on government to commence implementation of National Drug Distribution Guidelines which has remained in limbo for too long.
The need for a review of some aspects of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria Laws especially as it relates to the topic and the strengthening of the enforcement and oversight responsibilities of the agency are very crucial in determining the way to go on this proposition.
Standard Operating Procedures and a clear demarcation of who is qualified to undertake drug administration must be stated and strictly enforced otherwise patent medicine dealers already parading as chemists would misinterpret it and engage in unsafe injection services to the public with attendant negative health consequences.
According to the World Health Organisation, unsafe injections can result in transmission of a wide variety of blood borne pathogens with the associated disease burden. In fact, experts say that unsafe injection has been discovered to be responsible for rising cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) among patients and those who administer injection on them.
This perhaps explains why countries that have authorised community pharmacists to administer injectable medications other than vaccines make it mandatory for pharmacists to meet certain requirements including acquisition of requisite licenses before they are allowed to undertake the services.
Recent reports revealed that Pharmacists in 21 states in the United States were found to have privilege for administering injectable medications other than vaccines through completion of training approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, Collaborative Practice Agreements, and valid prescription orders among other requirements.
Therefore, the country needs to first get it right with standard operating healthcare space before introduction of innovative ideas turn away.