NGO tasks govt on health sector funding

Medicines
Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria-Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health @ Scale Project (PSN-PACFaH), an NGO, have urged government at all levels to increase funding for procurement of essential drugs.

Dr. Edwin Akpotor, the Senior Programme Officer of the group, who made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, bemoaned inadequate funding for procurement of essential drugs.

Akpotor said that essential and quality drugs would be handy for the treatment of malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, describing these diseases as major contributors to maternal and under five mortality in the country.

“There is need for increased funding to make sure essential, qualified drugs and commodities for the treatment of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and mama kits are available, it will also have an effect on the personnel that will be available in health facilities.

“So, if you are paying the doctors, nurses and pharmacists very well they will remain in the country and will not have any cause to live the country to practice elsewhere.

“All health facilities should be strengthened to have all the required machines and equipment for laboratory tests and drug production among others,” Akpotor advised.

On the need for domestication of the Essential Medicine List (EML) at the state level, he described such efforts as critical for universal access to quality and affordable drugs and health care commodities in the country.

He, however, described the domestication of EML policy document as crucial to the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality burden.

Akpotor, who decried childhood, neonatal and newborn mortality rate in the country, attributed the indices to lack of domestication and implementation of policies such as EML by governments and ownership of donor funded projects.

According to him, there is need for government to take ownership of policies such as EML among others to ensure sustainability, if not as soon as donors back out such projects will go on extinction.

He said that only three states in the South-South and South-East, which are Ebonyi, Rivers and Akwa Ibom have domesticated the EML describing it as “unacceptable”.

He further urged government to take ownership of projects being donor-driven for sustainability and far-reaching benefits to the host communities, adding that most projects in the country are funded by donors.

The programme officer, however identified Imo state as having the highest burden of under five mortality of 96 per cent per 1,000 live births in the zones, according to the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), blaming the rate on non-domestication of EML.

“According to 2017 MICS, among the 11 states in the South-South and South-East zones, Imo state has 96 under five deaths per 1,000 live births, which is the highest followed by Bayelsa 95, Abia 83, Akwa Ibom 73, Delta 63 and Ebonyi 61 respectively.

“On the average, 67 in 1,000 and 59 in 1,000 children given birth to today in the South-East and South- South zones respectively will not live to see their fifth birth day.

“We can end these preventable deaths by mainstreaming the use of the recommended drugs that is Amoxicillin Dispensable Tablet for Pneumonia and co-packed Zinc/Low Osmolarity Oral Salt for Diarrhea,” he said.

It would be recalled that the NGO, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health had on Sept. 11 disseminated the National Essential Medicine List (NEML) and National Standard Treatment Guidelines (NSTG) to stakeholders in the South-South and South-East zones.

Akpotor urged the states to ensure availability and affordability of Amoxicillin Dispensable Tablet and co-packed Zinc/Low Osmolarity Oral Salt for Pneumonia and Diarrhea at all health facilities.

“We urge all states in South-South, South-East zones among others to urgently domesticate the EML and STGL and also prioritise the management of childhood pneumonia and diarrhea.

Prof. John Ohaju-Obodo, chairman, National Drug Formula/Essential Drug List Review Committee, stressed that domestication of EML was critical to universal access to quality and affordable drugs and health care commodities in the country.

Ohaju-Obodo urged all state governments to domesticate the policy document and prioritise the management of childhood pneumonia and diarrhea being the biggest contributor to the death of the children under five years.

“We believe if state actors and stakeholders prioritise treating killer diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea, the avoidable, unacceptably high mortality from such diseases will reduce in the country,” he said.
~NAN
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