By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja – Stakeholders in the health sector have urged the Federal Government to check arbitrary hike in sale of drugs and abrupt withdrawal of essential drugs from the shelves.
They made the call at the inauguration of the second edition of Nigeria Standard Treatment Guidelines NSTG and sixth edition of Essential Medicines List (EML) on Friday in Abuja.
Prof. Ambrose Isah, the immediate past Chairman of the EML Review Committee, decried the exorbitant cost of drugs in the country and sudden withdrawal of some essential drugs from the markets by manufacturers.
This development, according to him, has made it difficult for patients and care-givers to access quality health care services.
Isah, who is a Consultant Clinical Pharmacologist, noted that studies conducted by the WHO, Federal Ministry of Health revealed that Nigeria was one of the countries with highest cost of medicines in Africa.
“I suggest that there should be price mechanism by the Federal Ministry of Health to curb unnecessary increase in the cost of medicines in the country,’’ he said.
He also said the mechanism should be capable of checking arbitrary withdrawal of drugs from the markets without prior notification of care givers among others.
“If a drug is going to be withdrawn there should be advance notice like one or two years, with that time line professionals can adjust and switch their patients to different medicines.
“There is need to address the high cost of essential medicines in the market and advance notification of withdrawal of certain drugs from the market to enable patients and care givers adjust to new drug before final withdrawal,”Isah said.
In his remarks, Prof. John Ohaju-Ogbodo, said the developed NSTG was geared toward assisting practitioners to provide better health care services.
Ohaju-Ogbodo further explained that the EML was also meant to provide “safe, efficacious and affordable medicines” to satisfy the health care needs of the people.
According to him, EML is to ensure rational use of drugs and minimise wastage at all levels of health care delivery.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, urged state governments to revise and adopt their policy documents in line with the current standards of the World Health Organisation (WH.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is committed to regularly updating important documents in order for our health providers to be in tune with the International best practices,” the minister said.
Ehanire was represented by the Director Food and Drug Services Department in the ministry, Mrs Gloria Chukwumah, Ehanire.
He said the willingness of health providers to strictly adhere to many policy documents made available was the best way to ensure quality health service delivery.
The programme was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN)-Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Civil Society (PACFaH)among other coalition.
The stakeholders the Pharmaceutical Society of the Nigeria (PSN), Committee on the review of Essential Medicines List (EML), Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) among others. (NAN)