By Doris Obinna

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) has demanded the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with it on immunization and family planning projects.

The association states that its members, with the level of training endured so far, are competent and can effectively provide essential services in the country’s healthcare.

ACPN in a letter to the Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for Health, Ali Pate, said it relies on the spirit of the Pharma Consultative Forum recently inaugurated by the minister to fix this unwholesome situation with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).

The letter, jointly signed by the National Chairman, Adewale Oladigbolu and National Secretary, Omokhafe Ashore respectively, stressed that it has been strengthening Nigeria’s sinking health system in line with the legal approbation that pharmacies are designated as health facilities within the framework of National Health Act 2014.

ACPN reiterated that at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the immediate past leadership of the NPHCDA partnered with its association by authorising community pharmacies to administer COVID-19 vaccines in their facilities in 2021.

It also noted that the agreement, which was a two-year MoU expired in December 2023 and during the period community pharmacies vaccinated over 76,000 patients and clients in 253 community pharmacies.

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The association further stated that ACPN is a Technical Group of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) which specializes in providing health services through neighborhood pharmacy facilities.

The letter further reads: “We would have assumed this landmark development should speak for the capacity and competence of community pharmacies until the incumbent management decided it was not going to renew the MoU because the chief executive officer is a ‘politician’ whatever that really means.

“We have watched and appraised your methodology since taking-over at the FMoH. The overriding perception the two ministers and the permanent secretary at the FMoH continue to give is that President Bola Tinubu has mandated them to expand the service potentials of all key health personnel as well as promote collaborations between the respective players.”

“It is important to put on record that the management of NPHCDA and National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) appear not to be on the same page as the Hon. Minister in his vision to promote collaborations because they have maintained an unfortunate bias and poor management techniques laced in extremely bad faith.

“This memo, which is central to happenings at NPHCDA, gives the major reason why our health system is still rated amongst the weakest ten in the world, such that Sudan, a war-ravaged climate, is even ahead of Nigeria.”

ACPN, while urging the minister to encourage value addition to the country’s fading health system, added: “We can and should make healthcare a big business in Nigeria like we see in other climes.”