The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has challenged the federal government with stemming the flood of pharmacists fleeing to brighter pastures abroad.

It expressed worry that, as a result of pharmacist migration, Nigeria now has one pharmacist for every 14,000 patients.

Prof Cyril Odianose Usifoh, president of PSN, made the request yesterday, lamenting the trend of migration of Nigerian pharmacists to other nations, particularly the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA), Australia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.

Over the last five years, he said, 5,208 pharmacists have fled the nation.

According to Usifoh, like with their counterparts in other health areas, the development has a negative impact on healthcare delivery in the country.

While citing the data as concerning, the PSN president stated that the brain drain would “worsen the fragility of our health system and jeopardize the ability of national and sub-national institutions to address the health demands of the public.”

“There is an unprecedented movement of Pharmacists fleeing from Nigeria,” he remarked. At latest count, around 5,208 pharmacists have left the country in the last five years in pursuit of the traditional green pastures, primarily in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, along with their colleagues in other health areas and many young Nigerians.

Usifoh announced that, as of the end of 2021, approximately 803 pharmacists have received letters of good standing from the council.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) suggested ratio of healthcare personnel to population is 23 to 1,000, but in Nigeria, it is an awful 1.95 to 1,000,” he explained. This applies to the entire health-care staff. In terms of pharmacists, there are 0.07 pharmacists for every 1,000 Nigerians, or one pharmacist for every 14,000 Nigerians. According to WHO, the acceptable and recommended pharmacist-to-population ratio is one pharmacist for every 2,000 people.”

He urged the government to act quickly to stop the flood by reviewing and reconfiguring the health services health architecture, adding, “the onus is on the government to reconfigure the health architecture in the country in order to retain the manpower we are losing.”

Usifoh cited infrastructural inadequacy and pitiful working conditions of many healthcare personnel as main causes responsible for pharmacists migrating overseas as important factors. “Poor healthcare funding, with a gap of about USD 200 billion,” he stated. This is to blame for the lack of infrastructure and the poor working conditions of many healthcare staff.

He also mentioned the distribution of health staff, with tertiary health institutions receiving more patronage than primary health institutions, resulting in overworked personnel at tertiary institutions. “Over 60% of their clientele has trivial difficulties that might have been resolved at the primary level. As a result, people who require tertiary care are delayed, with many dying or suffering irreversible harm before their turn to receive care “He stated this.

Usifoh underlined the workforce depletion in the department of pharmaceutical services in the country’s various institutions as a result of retirement and brain drain, and asked the government to replace the pharmacists as soon as possible.

He lamented the immobility of pharmacists in the public sector, who are not permitted to advance to level 17 at the pinnacle of their careers. This, he claims, has resulted in low morale. He requested that pharmacists be promoted to level 17, as is done with other professionals in the public sector.

“New Pharmacist Service Scheme: The present Pharmacist Service Scheme was established in 2005 and is long overdue for review. We hereby suggest that the pharmacist service model be reviewed immediately. This new service scheme is expected to include an improved entry point and increased call duty allowance for Pharm. D holders, as well as an approved Consultancy Cadre for Pharmacists “.

Usifoh, who also decried the discriminatory salary scale pharmacists in the public service are placed against their medical counterparts, called for an upwards review of the scales.

“The compensation structure of pharmacists has stayed unchanged for more than a decade, although that of their medical colleagues has been reviewed twice in quick succession. We request an upward assessment of the pharmacist compensation structure (CONHESS) to reflect current reality as modified for CONMESS. This should be done because there are plans to examine all health worker salaries in the country.”

He stated that the 95th Annual National Scientific Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, themed “Medicine Security In An Unstable Economy,” which will be held in Jos from October 31st to November 4th, 2022, will generate robust discourse for the development of the pharmaceutical sub-sector of the Nigerian economy.

According to him, the inauguration ceremony would be presided over by former President General Yakubu Gowon. Other notable Nigerians who are slated to attend include the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig-Gen. Dr. Simon Bako Lalong, governor of Plateau State, and Buba Marwa (rtd).

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