Worried by the frequent industrial actions and in fighting among professionals in the health sector, the President Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Olumide Akintayo, has delivered a blue print on how to ensure harmony.
Akintayo in an address at the opening ceremony of the 86th Annual National Conference of the Society held Tuesday in Ilorin, Kwara State, encouraged the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to ensure that a workable policy is launched before the end of the year and review of retirement age for health workers from 60 to 65 years.
He called on the recently inaugurated Yayale Ahmed led Harmony Committee to establish a new foundation for a health sector by embracing international best practices in the management of public health workers.
The Harmony Committee is charged with redressing the following amongst other issues: Non-skipping of Consolidated Health workers Salary Scale (CONHESS) 10 in line with the judgment of the National Industrial Court; modalities for the payment of consultancy and specialist allowance for healthcare professionals in the health sector; pay relativity as reflected in the 2008 job evaluation report; and review of retirement age for health workers from 60 to 65 years.
Akintayo said the PSN expects that at the expiration of the Harmony Committee it must have put in place a positive practice environment characterized by: safe and wellness policies that address workplace hazards, discrimination, physical and psychological violence; an organizational climate reflective of effective management and leadership practices; equal opportunities and treatment; professional Identity, autonomy and control over practice; decent pay and benefits; support, supervision and mentoring; open communication and transparency; and workers participation in decision making and shared values.
The PSN President also called on the (FMoH) to complete its laudable initiatives of commencing efforts at launching a formal prescription policy for Nigeria even as he congratulated President Goodluck Jonathan and Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, for reconstituting the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) which in real terms had been non existent since November 2007.
Akintayo drew the attention of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) to the reality that the National Council on Establishment has already approved the consultant/specialist cadre in the Scheme of Service for pharmacists in Nigeria.
He said the development has encouraged the Niger and Lagos State governments to designate some pharmacists in the public service as consultants.
The PSN President urged OHCSF to immediately generate necessary approvals towards facilitating the emergence of this cadre of specialist pharmacists to evolve in public service at federal level to convince all health providers that it is sincere in its dialogue sessions with workers.
Akintayo said the Society received the news of the newly constituted Yayale Ahmed Committee with some hope. He said a similar exercise a few months ago was jeopardized by the maneuvers of the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health because the far reaching recommendations of the Justice Gusau led committee which anchored the same exercise did not satisfy members of one profession as the Gusau report gave a leeway for a departure from the status-quo of glaring recklessness and injustice in the structure, privileges and emoluments of health workers in Nigeria.
Akintayo explained: “We are aware of the President’s interest in restoring harmony in the health sector and this must have led to setting up of a Presidential Committee inaugurated personally by His Excellency to re-evaluate the Gusau Committee report. We note the caliber of persons appointed on the Committee and urge them to embrace the principles of equity, justice and fair play in conducting this noble exercise.
“The appropriate precursor for the Yayale Ahmed Committee appears to be the committee set up to redress the welfare of care-providers under the headship of the incumbent Head of Service of the Federation Alhaji Bukar Goni.
“The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria is aware that in view of the National Industrial Court judgment on skipping of CONHESS 10, Government should withdraw the circular of the Federal Ministry of Health on non-skipping and this should be given administrative teeth immediately.
“… Fundamental to the above is the reality today that even the World Health Organisation in a recent press release affirms that modern healthcare is too complex to be left to any one profession in the Health Sector. The Yayale-Ahmed Committee must facilitate strategies and policies in the workplace that strengthen and support the health workforce and in turn, have positive impact on patient outcomes and organizational cost effectiveness.”
Akintayo said the Society is particularly excited at the appointment of Pharm. Bruno Nwankwo as the Chairman of PCN. He said Nwankwo is a veteran and seasoned pharmacist who is widely perceive as one who can lead PCN to chart an agenda that will move pharmacy to the next level.
He said the major thrust of the responsibilities of the PCN revolve around pharmacy practice, training and disciplinary action on pharmacists, support personnel as well as pharmaceutical companies.
Akintayo said for a paradigm shift in pharmacy practice in Nigeria, the Council must change gear with respect to inspectorate activities. “For an agency that is a metamorphosis of the erstwhile Pharmacists Board of Nigeria (PBN) established in 1958, we need to enhance the operational efficiency of the Council by insisting in this dispensation that the PCN must employ its own inspectors who will take charge of monitoring and control of pharmaceutical premises through the instrument of the state/zonal offices of the PCN.”
Akintayo said in addition to this expected boom in inspectorate activities, the PCN must commence the production of professional stamps and seals for registered pharmacists to meet some goals of the much anticipated National Prescription Policy.
He said to realize these shifts to a next level, all players in organized pharmacy must be prepared for a review in statutory fees, the lean financial times notwithstanding.
Akintayo said the challenges of the approved Pharm. D programme is yet another important objective the PCN must realize. “The pre-registration exams for intern pharmacists must commence in earnest as we raise a new generation of pharmacists who can compete globally,” he said.
He said the PCN must also begin to insist on more stringent condition precedents in the accreditation of training facilities for pharmacists and support personnel in pharmacy practice.
He also said one sore area in the practice mode is the dwindling sanction culture in the last 10 years and the PCN must more than ever before wield the big stick to ensure disciplinary measures are applied on erring colleagues and companies in the weeks ahead. “The PSN will be more than committed to these ideals as we march on a much envisaged progress lane.”
On the national prescription policy, Akintayo said the launch of a formal prescription policy for Nigeria would encourage the infamous menace of prescribing pharmacists and dispensing doctors. “A need therefore arises to consciously begin to work toward separation of professional roles as the global norm is to ensure that both the prescriber and dispenser of medicines do not have pecuniary gains or advantage,” he said.
Akintayo said the ultimate methodology of the policy should facilitate the generation of formalized/personalized prescription pads with the professional registration numbers of the prescriber who could be a registered medical practitioner, registered dentist, registered veterinary surgeon and alternate medicine practitioner through the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) or other appropriate regulatory council.
He said all such personalized prescriptions will be filled by registered pharmacists who will affix their professional stamps and seals with the PCN registration number.
Akintayo said the need to sanitize prescribing and dispensing endeavours, which is one of the dimensions in the chaotic drug distribution network can certainly not be over-emphasized in the public interest and that is why the PSN continues to encourage FMoH to ensure that a workable policy is launched before the end of the year.
Written by By Chukwuma Muanya
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