The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) is urging the federal government to curb the flow of pharmacists who are going overseas for greener pastures.
The organisation expressed its concerns that because of the migration of pharmacists, Nigeria currently has one pharmacist to 14,000 patients.
The president of PSN, Prof Cyril Odianose Usifoh, who made the plea yesterday, lamented the rate of migration of Nigerian pharmacists to other countries, especially to the United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), Australia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.
He revealed that over 5,208 pharmacists left the country in the last five years.
Usifoh said like their counterparts in other health fields, the development impacts negatively healthcare delivery in the country.
While describing the statistics as worrisome, the PSN boss said with a ratio of one pharmacist to 14,000 Nigerians, the brain drain would “worsens our health system’s fragility and jeopardises the ability of the national and sub-national entities to meet the health needs of the population.’’
“There is an unprecedented movement of Pharmacists away from Nigeria. At the last count, about 5,208 Pharmacists have left the country in the last 5 years in search of the proverbial green pastures especially in Canada, the UK, and the United States, just like their counterparts in other health fields and indeed many young Nigerians.”
Usifoh confirmed that at the last count, over 803 pharmacists had collected letters of good standing from the council in 2021.
He said, “The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ratio of healthcare workers to the population is 23 to 1,000 while in Nigeria; it is an abysmal 1.95 to 1,000. This is for the entire health workforce. When expressed in terms of the pharmacists’ component, there are 0.07 pharmacists to 1,000 or one pharmacist to over 14,000 Nigerians. According to WHO, the acceptable and recommended ratio of pharmacists to the population is one pharmacist to 2,000 of the population.”
He called on the government to urgently stem the tide through a review and reconfiguration of the health services health architecture, saying, ‘’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.’’
Usifoh identified infrastructural deficit and pitiable working conditions of many healthcare workers due to inadequate funding of the sector as major factors responsible for the migration of pharmacists overseas.
“Poor healthcare funding with the gap standing at close to USD 200 billion. This is responsible for the infrastructural deficit and pitiable working conditions of many healthcare workers.”
He also cited the distribution of health workforce with more patronage of tertiary compared to primary health institutions, causing personnel at the tertiary institutions to be overworked as another reason.
“Over 60 percent of their clientele is composed of people with minor issues the 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,” he stated.