The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria says Yobe and Zamfara states have less than 22 pharmaceutical premises combined and low presence of trained pharmacists.
The council said that contrary to what many might think, the high level of insecurity in the North has nothing to do with the situation.
The PCN spoke in reaction to a study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice.
The study, titled, An Analysis of Pharmacy Workforce Capacity in Nigeria, states that while majority of the licensed workforce in the country are in Lagos State, with 3,661 pharmacists; and the Federal Capital Territory, with 1,540 pharmacists, Yobe and Zamfara states have the least (20 and 22 respectively).
However, speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, PCN Public Relations Officer, Dr. Peter Illiya, said, as the custodians of records on pharmaceutical practice in Nigeria, PCN could reveal that Yobe, Zamfara and Jigawa states combined don’t have anything near 22 pharmaceutical outlets.
The study, led by Aniekan Ekpenyong, who is a pharmacist at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, revealed that Nigeria has 21,892 registered pharmacists nationwide, with only 12,807 still in active professional practice.
“The data shows that the country has 62 per cent male, compared to female pharmacists; while 42 per cent of the licensed workforce with a known area of practice are in community practice.
“The number of people in hospital pharmacy is just 11 per cent,” the study said.
According to the study, regionally, more than a third of the licensed workforce and community pharmacies are situated in the South-West region of Nigeria, with fewer than 10 per cent of the total domiciled in the North-East and North-West regions combined.
The findings suggest that observed deficits are not solely related to out-migration and highlights the need for policies that will promote increased within-country availability, equitable distribution and retention, especially in the underserved regions of North-East and North-West of Nigeria.
“Majority of the licensed workforce in the country are in Lagos State, with 3,661 pharmacists; and the Federal Capital Territory, 1,540 pharmacists; while Yobe and Zamfara states had the least (20 and 22 respectively),” the study stated.
Reacting to the study, Illiya said that the difference between the total number of retail drug outlets and trained pharmacists in states like Yobe, Zamfara and Jigawa, especially, was not much.
“The difference in the number of pharmacies and the pharmacists themselves cannot be much. Proportionately, it is the same. We are the custodians of record at the PCN. The Yobe, Zamfara and, I think, Jigawa that you mentioned don’t have anything near 22 pharmaceutical outlets.
“I can tell you categorically that Yobe doesn’t even have up to five retail pharmacies in all its communities as we speak.
“Jigawa has two as at the last count, and Zamfara should have slightly higher than that.
“However, Lagos and Abuja still maintain their positions as the biggest hubs for both pharmacists and pharmaceutical premises,” the PCN image maker said.
When asked if the low number of trained pharmacists and pharmaceutical premises was as a result of the high level of insecurity in the North, the PCN spokesman said that it was more of the economic situation in the region.
“It was as a result of the economic endowment of each state. If you look at the per capita income and the volume of businesses in those states, you will see that they are about the lowest in Nigeria. That majorly explains the reason.
“If you compare the low number of pharmacists with those of medical doctors or almost all categories of professions in these regions, you will discover that it is similar. It is as a result of the economic situation I mentioned earlier,” Illiya said.
In 2019, global survey site, Statista, ranked Zamfara, Jigawa and Yobe states among the top seven regions with the largest percentage of people living below the poverty line in Nigeria.
Recall that president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa, said in October that the current statistics of pharmacists available in the country shows a ratio of one pharmacist to 50,000 people.
He urged the Federal Government to employ more pharmacists to ease pressure on existing health workers.
“COVID-19 has exposed the inadequacies of our healthcare delivery system, including the number of health professionals in the country.
“As recommended by the WHO, there should be one pharmacist to 2,000 persons of the total population.
“In Nigeria, as professionals, we are faced with about 50,000 people to one pharmacist. This is obviously overwhelming,” Ohuabunwa said.
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