Pharmacists may go on strike over commercialisation of facilities at FHIs


Health Minister, Dr Khaliru Alhassan

Pharmacists under the aegis of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) may go on strike, if nothing was done urgently, by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), to stop the commercialisation facilities at Federal Health Institutions (FHIs) especially the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) Benin, Edo State, and the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri, Imo State.

President PSN, Olumide Akintayo, told The Guardian yesterday: “We shall also intimate our allies in organised labour, specifically Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of these emerging aberrations despite recent agreements signed with government.”

Akintayo said as a follow-up to recent memos and pleas for an urgent intervention by the FMoH to halt the commercialisation of pharmacy facilities in FHIs, the PSN puts on record that rather than abate, the tendencies and flair for vindictive actions targeted against pharmacists and the profession of pharmacy has continued unchecked at UBTH and FMC Owerri.

The PSN President said discriminatory and vengeful acts have been the lot of pharmacy facilities and the requisite players since the end of the last JOHESUs’ strike contrary to specific agreement with government which was also conveyed to the FMoH by President Goodluck Jonathan after his February meeting with the leaders of JOHESU, a consultation that led to the suspension of the strike even when most of the demands of JOHESU were yet to be met by government.

Akintayo said for ease of digestion, the PSN wishes to clarify again that the procurement of drugs is grounded in Acts of Parliament, which cannot be overridden by measures of impunity currently being orchestrated by the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (C-MAC) at UBTH and the Medical Director of FMC, Owerri.

He said it is a shame that despite these safeguards, the rabble at UBTH, Benin and FMC, Owerri have not been called to order even when the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria alerted the Federal Ministry of Health in its letter of April 15, 2015.

Akintayo said: “We at the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria will no longer condone the components of idiotism directed against our membership. The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria hierarchy encourages our affected members not to be weighed down by vengeance laced in satanic antagonism championed by the CMAC at University of Benin Teaching Hospital, which has become a bastion of oppressing health professionals, which refuse to be stooges to doctors.

“The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria warns all its members who compromise the sacred values of the profession in this discourse of gross consequences, while the National Council will appropriately honour those who choose to fight the good fight of liberating our people.”

The PSN had in a letter dated April 15, 2015 and titled “A Plea for Urgent Intervention To Stop Commercialisation of Pharmacy Facilities in Federal Health Institutions (FHIs)” urged the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to direct the management of the FHIs to adopt the guidelines the FMOH issued in the past on procurement of medicines and to adopt only lawful versions of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative which does not inculcate use of private profiteers.

The Letter signed by the PSN President, Olumide Akintayo, reads: “I find it necessary to put the FMOH on notice with regards to recent attempts by some FHIs to commercialize pharmacy facilities in their domain through sourcing of drugs by engaging private profiteers.

“A semblance of this is, currently been contemplated by the FMC, Owerri as reported by Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Imo State branch. In some other instances some of the hospital managements are attempting to exploit loopholes in the procurement act by mandating procurement officers to source drugs for use in the hospital system. The Nigeria Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists (NAHAP) Edo State branch puts on record the effrontery of the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (C-MAC), University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) in entrenching this model at UBTH, Benin.

“Our investigation reveals that these acts are vengeful and discriminatory to punish pharmacists for participating in the last JOHESU strike.

“The Hon. Minister will recall the many promises of the Federal Government to avoid discriminatory or punitive measure against persons, associations and professions that participated in the aforementioned strike. This is the pact with organized labour as symbolized by JOHESU that the management of these FHIs seek to violate in contemporary times.

“It is pertinent to draw the attention of FMOH to its letter of 2/7/2010 to all FHIs on condition precedent to procurement of drugs (copy attached). The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), which regulates and controls pharmacy practice in Nigeria, has also come up with specific guidelines on lawful models of PPP in pharmacy practice in Nigeria.

“Our appraisal of the legal imperatives in procurement of medicines suggests that only pharmacists can supply, dispense, deliver and take custody of medicines albeit legitimately in Nigeria…”

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