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Pharmacists urge FG to tackle decay in medical practice

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The Community Pharmacists Association of Nigeria (ACPN) has called on the Federal Government to pay attention to the rotting medical practice in the country.

The National Chairman of the CNPA, Mr. Adewale Oladigbolu, who called as hypocritical a recent statement by the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Dr. Tajudeen Sanusi, calling on health regulators to awaken their responsibility to regulate, monitor, evaluate and punish the behavior of their offending members.

In a document signed by Dr Oladigbolu, he referred to Dr Sanusi’s prescription of disciplinary action against licensed doctors caught “gambling with the lives of their patients by being negligent, corrupt and in some cases , by displaying blatant incompetence in the management of their patients”, ACPN accused the MDCN of being guilty of an inability to enforce discipline against its offending members.

“Contrary to the MDCN Registrar’s insinuations that he punishes the behavior of his offending members, we have never seen this happen to the bigwigs of the medical profession in Nigeria.

“The ACPN recalls an incident when the late President Musa Yar’Adua ordered the EFCC to arrest a serving medical minister of health who was accused alongside others of being in pain managed unspent Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) funds in the previous year’s fiscal budget.

“All medical professionals offered through the Nigeria Medical Council (NMA) was to regret this development while giving the impression that its members had integrity.”

Oladigbolu claimed that “even the umbrella model once produced a ruler who squandered tens of millions of naira donated by the FG under the watch of a military leader, through lost deposits in financial institutions.” This tragedy, he said, comes on top of the “careless management of Victoria Island property given to the same group in 1982 by the Lagos State government under the Alhaji Lateef Jakande administration. This are the reasons why the “big boys” of the health sector do not have their own national secretariat until today.

According to him, “the MDCN in the two exemptions of the Doctor-Minister and the President of the group never brought these people before the Disciplinary Tribunal of the MDCN, but it claims to punish the offending members.

“A recent audit of civil service systems by the ICPC confirmed that health MDAs are the most corrupt in the country,” Dr Oladigbolu added.

He further alleged that the leadership of MDCN and its members have become experts in the moral hypocrisy of seeing no evil in their profession, adding that “over the past few months there have been tones and cries of outright decapitation of DRF accounts in virtually all of our countries”. Federal healthcare facilities that have MDCN-regulated physicians in charge without MDCN attempting to seek clarification from anyone.

“The FMoH like last year had resolved in a memo to the PSN to probe the affairs of the DRF in the NOH, Igbobi who was singled out in the perversion of the DRF regime. Even when the calls are louder in this sense, how many of these CEOs, especially the sacred cow of NOH, Igbobi have been summoned to appear before the MDCN commission of inquiry?

“It is crystal clear that half-hearted measures to punish errant doctors only target neophyte members or outsiders at best, while the real culprits walk away with their boots on,” Oladigbolu alleges.

He added: “It is imperative that we remind the guardian of medical laws and ethics at MDCN that his tribe of physicians take professional oaths upon graduation, while those privileged to enjoy bureaucratic positions senior officers also take administrative oaths in accordance with their leadership positions in the various MDAs. Why has the MDCN not been able to call to order its very tyrannical hierarchy when it refuses to enforce the Civil Service Regulations, government circulars, directives and related texts. ”

He specifically dismissed Dr. Sanusi’s reference to community pharmacy as becoming “centres where patients see pharmacists and then obtain medication from pharmacies,” as a blatant lack of knowledge by the MDCN Registrar.

“There is a National Health Act – 2014 which recognizes Pharmacies, Laboratories, Physioclinics and others as health institutions in Nigeria. This same document allows all registered care providers to have access to patients and their records. A community pharmacist who is consulted by a patient for his health and medication needs is therefore not breaking any law in Nigeria.

“When it comes to managing medicines globally, the Registrar must understand that medicines are categorized as Over-the-Counter (OTC), Pharmacist Initiated Medicines (PIM), Prescription Only Medicines (POM ) and controlled medications.

Continuing, he explained that a pharmacist has unfettered freedom to dispense OTC and PIM without liaising with another practitioner because the scope of their training covers it. The Registrar of the MDCN does not see the aberrations committed by its outlaw members who operate in particular in the private sector.

More than 99% of private hospitals operate unregistered pharmacies without a pharmacist to oversee dispensing and counseling efforts related to drugs contrary to the Poison and Pharmacy Act. The exploitation of patients who sometimes pay more than 500% more than the basic cost of drugs through scam schemes is one of the bases of the survival of private doctors in Nigeria.

Oladigbolu also asserted that private hospitals in Nigeria are the centers for the unlimited and unchecked creation of under-professional cadres in health “because that is where nursing assistants, drug dispensing assistants and medical assistants diagnosticians are trained and sometimes certified while the various private hospital registration authorities and the MDCN look the other way to protect their fellow physicians.

The CNPA president, who blamed the FMoH for rotting medical practices, called on the federal government to urgently address the anomalies.