The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria has said the challenges occasioned by the naira redesign may further reduce the life expectancy of Nigerians already pegged at 53.
The president of the body, Professor Cyril Usifo, in a statement on Wednesday said the current state of the economy caused by the scarcity of the new naira notes may also give rise to cases of morbidity and mortality.
According to him, the Federal Government institutions now reject the old naira notes and insist on payment of services through confirmed transfer services or payments with bank tellers into their accounts.
He also berated the judiciary for failing to align with the masses in the current circumstances, as most of the courts in the land had stopped collecting old naira notes from people gearing to file processes in court registries.
The statement partly read, “The PSN has observed with concern the paralysing and suffocating impasse that has accompanied the CBN-driven naira design.
“When this is added to the unduly long week of prevailing fuel scarcity, then it becomes all too obvious that these forces are conspiring to further reduce the unacceptable life expectancy of the Nigerian citizens put at 53.
“As it stands today, the economy appears to be grinding to a halt with the full potential of a meteoric rise in cases of morbidity and mortality because disease progression remains a major risk factor in a population where the less privileged who rely on out of pocket expenses to access healthcare is denied access to cash.
“This certainly makes a huge quantum of Nigerians vulnerable to death if this unhealthy scenario remains unchecked.
“For a country where a substantial majority relies on subsistence living because they thrive and live on daily earnings as artisans, market men and women, okada riders, bus drivers and so on, it is only a matter of time before the country might reap the consequences of its negligence of the health of the citizenry.”
Usifo, however, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to come up with a specific position to guide the banks in view of the Supreme Court’s declaration on the naira design.
He stated that this would go a long way in diffusing tension as well as restoring credibility in the banking system at a time when most banks are no longer open to the public for day-to-day banking operations and transactions.
“Government agencies at all levels need to be called to order to desist from complicating the already chaotic situation. In Kano State, the government is already threatening to revoke the C of O of banks that refuse to collect the old naira notes.
“All government hospitals should be compelled to initiate treatments, especially in the accident and emergency units and in-patients departments while acceptable payment modalities are being sorted,” he added.
Usifo further reminded the federal and state governments to review the operational modalities of Social Health Insurance in the country, particularly to ensure that all endeavours are inclined on the path of lawful pillars in the plan of action.
He said the National Health Insurance Authority must conform with lawful payment mechanisms and delineate facilities that qualify to be gatekeepers or primary providers which were eligible for capitation payments rather than the indiscriminate capitation that is presently extended to secondary and tertiary facilities which remains a misnomer.
While calling on the banking institutions to leverage modern technology to cushion the effect of the scarcity, Usifo admonished pharmacy practitioners to collect the old naira notes as the apex bank had promised to accept them from its members.
He said, “The PSN in particular, draws the attention of the NHIA secretariat to salient provisions of the PCN Act 2022 which forbids the dispensing, sales, and stocking of drugs in premises not registered by the PCN. (Lack of Superintendent Pharmacist).
“The banks should be mandated to upgrade their IT infrastructure leverage modern technology (Cloud and 5G) which are available already in Nigeria.
“The PSN wishes to direct community pharmacies, which are the first points to seek healthcare globally, to work out ways to sustain services within the ambits of existing payment framework.
“In instances where the last resort borders on the collection of the old naira notes, we enjoin Pharmacy practitioners to collect such since we are assured the Apex bank will accept the old notes and credit our account balances.
“The PSN assures consumers of health that pharmacists shall continue to stand with them as we continue to facilitate the manufacturing of essential drugs in the factories and make them available at accessible pharmacies at affordable prices in line with the tenets of the National Drug Policy.”