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PSN Urges Government Action on PCN and Local Drug Manufacturing Ahead of National Conference

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), as it prepares for its 96th annual national conference, has delivered a critical message to the Federal Government, emphasizing the urgent need for action in two pivotal areas: reconstituting the Governing Board of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and revitalizing local drug manufacturing. The conference, themed ‘Pharmacy Practice: A Pivot to Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria,’ will take place in Gombe, Gombe State, from October 30 to November 4.

Challenges in the Pharmaceutical Sector

The PSN, during a recent press conference, highlighted several pressing challenges facing local drug manufacturers and offered solutions to mitigate these issues. These challenges have profound implications for medicine security and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Call for PCN Board Reconstitution

Prof. Cyril Odianose Usifoh, President of PSN, underscored the urgency of reconstituting the Governing Board of PCN. He pointed out that the non-appointment of the Chairman of PCN, who also serves as the Chairman of the disciplinary tribunal, has hampered the council’s ability to invoke sanctions against erring pharmacists and other pharmacy workforce members, as well as pharmaceutical companies. Prof. Usifoh stressed that appointing individuals with impeccable moral standing and an unimpeachable track record of service is paramount.

The PCN’s mandate encompasses education/training, pharmacy practice, and disciplinary matters. These mandates depend on a functional Governing Board, as it plays a critical role in the accreditation of training facilities and regulatory oversight, among other responsibilities.

Funding Challenges in the Pharmaceutical Sector

Another major concern is the inadequate funding of regulatory councils for professional bodies, including PCN. Prof. Usifoh noted that non-funding contravenes Section 9(1) of the PCN Act 2022, which obliges the Federal Government to provide budgetary and extra-budgetary allocations to PCN. He urged the Budget Office not to halt allocations to PCN in the public interest.

Impact of Brain Drain on Healthcare

Prof. Usifoh drew attention to the impact of brain drain on the healthcare system. Over the past six years, Nigeria has witnessed the departure of approximately 6,000 pharmacists, which has placed a substantial burden on the healthcare system. Replacing these professionals promptly is essential to ensure Nigerians have access to life-saving pharmaceutical care.

The Solution: Local Drug Manufacturing

To address the ongoing challenges, Prof. Usifoh emphasized that local drug manufacturing is the key to overcoming medicine security issues and achieving Universal Health Coverage. A robust local manufacturing sector can bolster various fields, from education and research to production and quality control. This, in turn, ensures self-sufficiency in healthcare professionals and reduces the need to seek employment abroad.

Recommendations for Local Manufacturing Improvement

To improve local manufacturing, Prof. Usifoh proposed the following measures:

  1. Creation of special funding for local manufacturers.
  2. Building trust in local products through increased patronage.
  3. Implementing strong but corrective, rather than punitive, regulations.
  4. Provision of basic amenities, including consistent power, water, and good roads.
  5. Reduction of import duties or financial support for specialized equipment.
  6. Development of paid internships or sponsorship programs for training specialized production staff.
  7. General economic improvement to lower production costs.

In conclusion, Prof. Usifoh stressed the significance of looking inward and supporting local manufacturing to enhance healthcare delivery and positively impact economic indices in Nigeria. A nation that produces what it consumes is self-sufficient, secure, and protected from the adverse effects of foreign product dependency, he noted.

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