The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has expressed fears on the rising number of pharmacists who are leaving the country in search of better opportunities abroad.
Mr Abiodun Ajibade, PSN Chairman in Oyo State, told newsmen on Monday in Ibadan that the association was worried over the massive brain drain that had hit the health sector.
Ajibade spoke at a news conference held as part of the association’s activities to mark its 2019 Pharmaceutical Week with the theme: “Pharmacy Practice, the Reality of Digitalisation.”
Ajibade said : “Pharmacists’ population in Nigeria is very low; this is in spite of the great potentials for growth occasioned by continuous emigration of pharmacists whom Nigeria has spent heavily on to train.
“Out of less than 30, 000 total population of practicing pharmacists in Nigerian, over 5, 000 of them have gone outside the country.
“In the last couple of months, out of the few numbers of pharmacists in University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, a lot of them have migrated to Canada.
“Most young pharmacists from Nigeria are all on their way to Canada, processing their visas here and there.’’
According to him, among the causes of the mass exodus of pharmacists is their marginalisation and the attendant rivalry with doctors.
“There is no enabling environment for pharmaceutical practice in Nigeria.
“ Therefore, pharmacists in the country have such low level of recognition and are underappreciated over their qualitative role in healthcare delivery,’’ he said.
While sparking on the menace of counterfeits and self -medication in the country, Ajibade said that out of pocket payment and lack of universal health insurance had contributed to the challenges.
“Even though medicines are produced under the approved good manufacturing practice, conveyed through good distribution practice and stored appropriately, it does not guarantee the safety and effectiveness of medicines in the hands of the health consuming public.
“In a nation where the average populace spends heavily on out of pocket basis for their health needs, it is so sad that the required value is lost because many of them are often denied quality pharmaceutical care.
“A situation where our hospitals do not have pharmacists, especially the private hospitals, but are offering medicines to the patients, is a great disservice Nigeria is doing to the populace and a breach of their fundamental human right,’’ Ajibade said.
He stressed the importance of technology in delivering safe and effective medicines for all Nigerians.
“Imbibing technology in its various shades has great advantage to multiply the capacity of pharmacists to reach a larger number of the population.
“With over 85 million Nigerians using smartphones, services of pharmacists can obviously be sought if this is well exploited,’’ he said.