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Enroll more Nigerians on NHIS for drug affordability — Pharmacists



Mrs Abiola Paul-Ozieh, Chairman of the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN), has called for mass enrollment of Nigerians into the health insurance scheme to guarantee drug affordability.

Paul-Ozieh, a pharmacist, told our correspondent in Lagos on Thursday that many Nigerians still pay out of pocket for routine drugs in spite their exorbitant prices.

NEWSVERGE reports that the National Health Insurance Scheme is a body set up by Decree 35, of 1999 (now Act 35) operating as Public Private Partnership and directed at providing accessible, affordable and qualitative healthcare for all Nigerians.

On May 24, 2022, it was officially gazetted by the Federal Government of Nigeria as the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

“If we can achieve the mandatory health insurance scheme such that every Nigerian is enrolled for health insurance and can access their consultation as well as drugs without having to pay out of their pocket, it will be great.

“This will be one of the best approaches to solving the issue of drug affordability because the scheme would have put everything together and saved millions of Nigerians from the erratic prices of drugs.

“Some branded anti-hypertensive drugs cost up to N30,000 to N50,000, which is on the high side for an ordinary Nigeria who is not enrolled in the scheme,” she said.

Paul-Ozieh, a former Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos Chapter, noted that the country still import 70 per cent of drugs consumed and import all Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), used by local manufacturers.

According to her, the government should put measures in place to address the issue of drug security due to the nation’s dependent on imported pharmaceutical products.

“We are heavily dependent on importation and we don’t have drug security because we can’t provide sufficient drugs for the citizen.

“We don’t have a single company that produces APIs, but companies like Emzor and two other are trying to venture into the local manufacturing of APIs, of which is very capital and energy intensive.

“These companies need all the support to kick-start and sustain production when they eventually start producing.

“Economically, we must put our house in order because you can’t import drugs into the country at a high rate and sell at a loss,” she said.

Also, Mr Sam Ohuabunwa, a former President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), said the country has natural untapped flora and fauna that can be package through technology for medicine.

Ohuabunwa said such would help to make drugs more available to Nigerians at a reduced cost, noting that the government’s support for the pharmaceutical industry was crucial in promoting local manufacturers.

He said: “We have untapped resources locally, like our flora fauna, of which we don’t need to go outside.

“All we need is the technology to package them because the chemical given to people works but they also cause damage to the body, compared to natural plants with minimal side effect.

“Over the years, we have government that will say the right thing but it takes time to get the talk into reality.

“This government is beginning to understand that there is so much they can do to promote the pharmaceutical industry and I am hopeful for the best,” he said.

Kemi Akintokun

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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