THE COALITION of Civil Society Organisations under the aegis, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PSN-PACFaH) has called for concerted efforts to promote the availability, affordability and use of Amoxicillin DT and and Zn-LO-ORS in treatment of Diarrhoea and pneumonia diseases in Lagos State.
A team of PSN-PacFaH members led by its chairman, Henry Adenigba during a courtesy call on Emzor Pharmaceuticals Limited, expressed concern that diarrhoea and pneumonia continue to lead as killer diseases among children in the State despite the availability of effective drugs to combat the scourge.
The group which had earlier visited the State Central Medical Stores at Oshodi lamented the non-inclusion of these two essential drugs approved for use in treating the diseases by the World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Federal Government on the State’s Essential Drugs List, “thus making its prescription by healthcare practitioners not mandatory”, said Adenigba.
The Coalition chairman canvassed that with the inclusion of these drugs on the essential drug list as first line treatment option for diarrheoa and pneumonia diseases in children, there would certainly be a drastic reduction in deaths from the diseases.
Speaking on burden of diseases among Nigerian children, Adenigba said, “Albeit neonatal causes at 33%, contribute to leading reasons why children die before their fifth birthday, the combination of diarrhoea and pneumonia at 14% and 9% respectively has made the profile of childhood deaths more worrisome”.
According to Adenigba, “it is unfortunate that even as the burden of the diseases rates as second and third causes of infant and child mortality in Nigeria, the use of AMX DT and Zn-LO-ORS for its treatment in the country is yet to be mandatory for all healthcare workers in many States to adopt during prescription for clients”..
On why the advocacy visit to Emzor, Adenigba noted, “Among South West states, it is embarrassing that Lagos State which is a fast growing megacity contributes 10% and 9% of the burden of pneumonia and diarrhoea despite the presence of manufacturers of the approved drugs in the state as well as the economic prosperity of the State.
He noted, “For every 100 Children death in Lagos State, Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Jointly account for 19 of those deaths and it is unfortunate that budgetary allocation to Health in the State has not increased in geometric relation to the large population of the state”.
Adenigba also noted, “Lagos State health sector allocation was reduced from N65B (9.8%) in 2016 to N51B (6.3%) in 2017 despite increase in the total State budget from N663B (2016) to N813B (2017);
“From 2011 till date (2017), the Lagos State House of Assembly has never increased the proposed health sector budget. It’s either they pass the budget as proposed by the Governor or they reduce it”, said Adenigba.
The PSN-PacFaH team leader, urged the management of Emzor to among others “increase its detailing activities to front line health care providers which will lead to increased demand and utilization of both Amoxicillin Dispersible Tablet (AMX DT) and co-pack Zinc-Low Osmolarity-ORS.
“Support increased procurement, distribution and increased utilization of AMX DT (for Pneumonia) and co-pack Zinc-LO-ORS (for Diarrhoea) across Lagos State; and continue to support the availability of these aforementioned essential drugs across the Federation”.
Responding, Executive Director General Duties, Mrs Uzoma Ezeoke told the visiting PacFaH team that the company has been actively involved in ensuring the availability and affordability of the drugs across the country but the major constraint has been with easy access to foreign exchange for procurement of raw materials.
The Director noted that the company is always strategically ready to move the health of Nigerians with its brand of quality drugs production especially the children’s drugs on pneumonia and diarrhoea but calls for the conscious prescription of the drugs by healthcare professionals at primary health centres since this has been approved by WHO.