Vigilance as a virtue or progressive act is applicable in every facet of human involvement. As a progressive tool, its implementation is craved globally. Broadly examined, vigilance embraces practices like carefulness, mental alertness, consciousness to mention but a few. It is in recognition of the effectiveness of this psychological tool that the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, decided to adopt it as a tool to combat counterfeiting and faking of pharmaceuticals.
Although the existence of herbs, medicinal plants and other materials is as old as creation, the western scientific wherewithal to explore, source, identify and modernize them for maximum public acceptance and utilization were yet to be acquired. However, it was in view of the loss of lives to varieties of diseases and sicknesses over the years, that prompted western medical scientists and health experts to embark on human health salvaging expeditions. Expectedly, these dogged scientific efforts yielded bountiful good health preserving, boosting and sustaining dividends which has today brought confidence into healthcare services. Today, curative and preventive health care services are made readily available by stakeholders in the sector owing to the availability of professionally and competently refined pharmaceuticals suitable for this purpose.
Aside great efforts made by government to guarantee unhindered availability and access to essential, safe and effective medicines, Nigeria has concretized an enduring pharmaceutical framework to unify and harmonise interactions, inputs and operations of stakeholders in the nation’s health sector so as to bring about a more effective, efficient and efficacious use of medicines nationwide.
Efficacious use of medicines
NAFDAC, a regulator in the sector, is saddled with the responsibility of actualizing the historic concept which entails promoting vigilance in pharmaceutical products consumption and administration.
NAFDAC director general, Dr Paul Orhii has evolved a dynamic and professionally seasoned arm to contend with the anticipated challenges. He has set up the pharmacovigilance unit/directorate, with a mandate to identify non-efficacious outcome of drug application in the treatment of ailments, abuse of medicines as well as other negative consequences. This means that should a drug be administered on a patient for the eradication or treatment of a particular ailment, the agency would observe medication errors, inability to cure as well as other negative developments that may have arisen from the usage of that product as such information will help to rectify identified product lapses,combat counterfeiting and faking,standardize healthcare delivery services etc.
However, since NAFDAC performs basically a regulatory function, it certainly requires the collaboration and support of players and stakeholders in the sector to achieve the desired success. Interestingly, advocacy visits are regularly made by the management to relevant stakeholders in the sector to garner the needed support for the success of this healthcare boosting policy. NAFDAC is conscious of the enormous benefits derivable from successfully harnessing this end users potentials for the purpose of attaining sanity in healthcare provision. This entails collation of inputs, comments or information from both users and administrators of pharmaceutical products through the provision of reports about reaction of drugs used by patients for the treatment of ailments.
Treatment of ailments
It is also termed ‘adverse report’ to NAFDAC through specified channels. It is in an attempt to entrench the culture of vigilance in pharmaceuticals composition, application and administration that NAFDAC accommodates a strategic and operationally unique department referred to as the pharmacovigilance directorate whose responsibility is to receive, collate and channel to the respective authorities information on effect of medicinal products administered on ailing persons.
The agency’s pharmacovigilance directorate is saddled with the coordination of pharmacovigilance activities nationwide, establishment and maintenance of a functional national database on adverse drug reactions and other medicine related problems, receive, document, follow-up, analyse and evaluate individual case safety reports, ICSR, for completeness, technical correctness and validity.
Interestingly, series of vigorous efforts have been made by NAFDAC to accord this unique pharmaceutical policy a household status. Among such is the incessant convocation of national stakeholders fora on pharmacovigilance in a bid to evolve sustainable platforms for stakeholders engagement.
Published: May 05, 2015. By Martins Ikhilae
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