By Joseph Edegbo
The National Treasurer, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN, Eze Ambrose has said private sector is critical for the success of any public health intervention hence the need for Government at all levels to carry the Pharmacists along.
The Treasurer stated this in a statement issued after a PSN-PAS and IntegratE trainings, held in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
Ambrose said there is need for CPs and PPMVs to be included among the private providers of free Family Plannig commodities just like the private hospitals and clinics are currently doing.
Pharm. Eze Ambrose added that there is urgent need to increased access and availability to affordable FP commodities since high cost of FP products was identified as one of the major barriers to FP products and services.
“when we counsel patients on contraceptive methods and we don’t have the contraceptive to give them, it affects the actual uptake.
“The patients are more comfortable to receive the commodities from us (who are close to them in the community) than going to the hospitals with the many bureaucracies.
“Free commodities will mean that the end user won’t pay (except of course for the small, little service charge) to obtain the product”.
“It was observed that it is only private hospitals and clinics that are currently included among facilities (together with public facilities) that get free FP commodities from government in Lagos State.
“This implies that clients visiting CPs and PPMVs will be disenfranchised from benefiting from the government free FP commodity policy.
“This may affect uptake. There is urgent need to integrate CPs and PPMVs into government free commodity program.
“we have distributed free malaria commodity with the government and other partners and it worked well. There was no issue”.
“The issue of documentation and data submission was the major challenge some government officials alluded to for the non-inclusion of CPs and PPMVs in the free FP commodity system.
“The official of ACPN said “the issue about CPs reporting commodity consumption data back to government can be handled by building our capacity and giving us the relevant tools.
“Community Pharmacists are currently providing data for HIV/AIDS programmes and there are no issues. If we are included in the free FP commodity system, there won’t be any issue around data reporting” He said
Pharm. Eze also advocated for more male involvement in FP programming as a strategy of ensuring the CIP document is fully implemented.
Another representative of the Community Pharmacists at the meeting Pharm. Mrs. Abiola Paul-Ozieh also expressed her delight at the various discussions at the CIP development meeting.
According to her, she was not happy that the invitation to the critical private sector players came late making them to miss out in the first day of the event.
She said a key take-away for her from the summit, is the non-integration of FP data generated by CPs and PPMVs into the State Health Management Information System (SHMIS) platform.
Mrs. Abiola Paul-Ozieh believes that when private sector data are well captured, there would be massive improvement in the percentages that are being reported.
Mrs. Paul-Ozieh also observed that despite the late invitation to the summit, Lagos State is intensifying efforts to integrate the CPs and PPMVs in their programs, especially FP thematic areas, which is highly commended.
In her words, “because the populace do not have the necessary information and awareness, some people are taking dangerous ways to get rid of unwanted pregnancy.
“This has led to increased rate of unsafe abortions and corresponding preventable deaths”.
“We have been challenged (at this summit) that youth friendly services should be made available even in the private sector. Although, we don’t have enough space to build cubicles for youth in our facilities, we are going to produce banners, posters, and fliers that will tell the young person that you can trust me (us) and confide in me (us) with your sexual and reproductive health need. When the young person comes, we would spend quality time to listen and provide all the necessary information and services”.
Mrs. Abiola Paul-Ozieh re-echoed the urgent need for public, private sector integration for the achievement of the State’s RH/FP goals.
Similarly, Comrade Nweke Kingsley, the Secretary, Lagos State branch of the National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicines Dealers stated that the FP summit has been self-fulfilling and that PPMVs could support the State to achieve the RH/FP goals by 2023.
Mr. Nweke appreciated the PSN-PAS project for actively involving and bringing them to limelight, pointing out that if not for the invitation they won’t have been at the event.