Pharmacists under the auspices of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have appealed to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) to restructure the leadership of the country’s health sector for desirable equity amongst health workers and better service delivery.
The appeal came yesterday from PSN president, Prof. Cyril Usifoh, who lamented the imbalance in the composition of the Health Sector Reform Committee, headed by Osinbajo.
He said the current arrangement negates the principle of equity and fairness, and discriminatory against some key professionals in the sector.
In a statement he issued, which was made available to LEADERSHIP in Abuja, the PSN boss said, “We observe that of the 28 members, about 23 appear to be physicians while only one pharmacist (PSN), a nurse (NANNM) and a laboratory scientist (AMLSN), the DG, BPE and DG, Federal Consumer Protection Council are confirmed not to be physicians.
He said since the obnoxious Decree 10 of 1985 was enacted and physicians were placed in charge of the sector at all levels from the federal, state and LGA as well as the health institutions under their jurisdiction.
In the statement titled: “Health Sector Reforms: The beat goes on”, Usifoh said ‘’ there was the need to include more health professionals of diverse backgrounds into the committee.’’
He expressed PSN’s fears that the proposed Health Sector Reform Committee may face the challenges of previous reforms under past administrations, without the immediate intervention of the federal government.
“The federal government proposed Health Sector Reform Committee may just go the way of previous health sector reform projects because the philosophy and execution plan is one and the same.
‘’Under the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, the late Prof. Olu Akinkugbe, an emeritus professor of medicine led a health reform team which had a similar composition of physicians dominating overwhelmingly.
But, the final report was dead on arrival because the positions, like what the Osinbajo Committee will most likely bring on the table, will be favourable to only the physicians. That will make it unacceptable to the preponderance of health professionals and workers who make up over 90 percent of the membership of the health sector,” Usifoh said.
“Typical of the processes involved in the sharing of benefits/packages, privileges and resources in the health sector, the reform committee with over 85 percent presence of physicians already negates the rights and liberties of the majority of health workers in Nigeria.
A committee of this nature has slots for the DG, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council, a lawyer, but not for an agency like NAFDAC which regulates all the drugs, medical devices, vaccines, medical equipment and chemicals etc, which are the essential tools and commodities which drive any credible health system,’’ he said.
He further said that “personalities like the director of hospital services of the FMoH, DG NACA, MD, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta, who complement the overwhelming presence of physicians on the committee, other health professionals especially those in pharma manufacturing and importation have no place on the committee
Continuing, he said ‘’We observe with consternation that at least four of the major trade unions including MHWUN, NUAHP, NASU and SSA have no representation on this Committee. MHWUN alone is reputed to have about 60% of the entire health workforce in its fold.