PSN Laments Mass Exodus of Members and other Healthcare Professionals

By Fabian Anawo

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, has decried the mass exodus of its members for greener pasture abroad.

The President of the Society, Professor
Cyril Odianose Usifoh made the lamented at a media briefing to herald its ninety-fifth annual conference scheduled to hold in Jos, Plateau State.

He said that about five thousand two hundred and eight Pharmacists have left the country in the last five years in search of the proverbial green pastures to Canada, UK and the United States while the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria had also issued eight hundred and three letters of good standing to such pharmacists in 2021 alone.

Professor Usifoh described the exodus as unprecedented and urged the Federal Government to arrest the situation.

He said that the mass movement was affecting Healthcare delivery as the ratio of health works to population has dropped thereby putting much burden on the patriotic ones left behind.

The WHO recommended ratio of healthcare workers to the population is 23 to 1000 while in Nigeria, it is an abysmal 1.95 to 1000. This is for the entire health workforce. When expressed in terms of the Pharmacists component, there are 0.07 Pharmacists to 1000 or 1 pharmacist to over 14,000 Nigerians. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the acceptable and recommended ratio of Pharmacists to the population is one Pharmacist to 2000 of the population.

“As a professional body, there’s only so much we can do to make the practice attractive enough to retain these young professionals who will carry on our dreams and aspirations of better healthcare delivery to Nigerians. However, the onus lies on the government to reconfigure the health architecture in the country in a bid to keep hold of the manpower we are losing in droves.” he said.

Professor Usifoh identified some of the cause of brain drain to include: Poor healthcare funding with the gap standing at close to USD 200 billion, which is responsible for the infrastructural deficit and pitiable working conditions of many healthcare workers.

Distribution of health workforce with more patronage of tertiary facilities compared to primary health institutions, causing personnel at the tertiary institutions to be overworked. Over 60% of their clientele is composed of people with minor issues that primary level could have solved. Consequently, those who actually need tertiary care are delayed with many dying or suffering irreversible damage before it gets to their turn to access care.

Global shortage of healthcare workers with the attendant migration to High Income Countries as well as remuneration and welfare issues and
contentious healthcare leadership and governance in a multidisciplinary system.

The PSN boss proffered the following as possible solutions to the problem; improved healthcare funding and fairness in financing, career progression and meaningful engagement for all healthcare workers.

Others are; respect, teamwork, and a health system governance that is fair to all categories of healthcare workers,
recognition and remuneration for practice specialization, improved work environments and benefits and training and development

He observed that Nigeria currently contribute a great number of healthcare workers to the UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia and other High-Income Countries noting that it is both a blessing and a curse.

“It is a curse since it worsens our health system’s fragility and jeopardises the ability of the National and Sub-national entities to meet the health needs of their population. It can be a blessing if we harness these global needs, positioning the education institutions to produce more than our projected needs locally and exporting these skills in exchange for commitments from the High income countries to invest in the training of healthcare workers locally.

Consequently, the PSN demands from both the Federal and state governments
to replace Pharmacists who have either left the shores of the country for greener pastures or retired from the service of the nation without delay.

That Pharmacists in public service be allowed to reach the peak of their carrier on salary grade level seventeen as is the case with other public servants as the non advancement to the zenith of their careers have led to incessant dampening of morale of public sector Pharmacists.

He also called for a new Scheme of Service for Pharmacists as the current scheme of service for them was that of 2005 which is long overdue for review. The new scheme of service should incorporate the enhanced entry point and enhanced call duty allowance for Pharm. D holders and the approved Consultancy Cadre for Pharmacists.

Professor Usifoh also called for the implementation of the Pharmacists’ Consultancy Cadre, following its approval in 2019 and subsequent release of several extant circulars from 2020.

He said that it is saddened that Pharmacists have been denied their rights to consultancy in the public sector and requested for the implementation of the circular across board without further delay.

He called for the adjustment of Salary Scale of Pharmacists as their salary have remained the same for over a decade while that of their medical counterparts have been reviewed upwards twice in rapid succession.

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