Written by Williams ABAH

FG launches drug related policies, guidelines

The Federal Ministry of Health has launched the drug-related health policies and guidelines document.

The documents: National Policy for Controlled Medicines and its Implementation Strategies, National Guidelines for Quantification of Narcotic Medicines, National Guidelines for Estimation of Psychotropic Substances and Precursors and National Minimum Standards for Drug Dependence Treatment in Nigeria, are aimed at improving the quality of health services in the country.

Speaking at the launching in Abuja recently, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry,  Mr. Clement Uwaifo, said that controlled medicines, especially schedule 1 narcotics have remained largely unavailable and inaccessible for medical use in Nigeria.

Adewole noted that the report released by the Global Access to Pain Relief Initiative, GAPRI, in 2012, showed that only 0.1percent of patients with HIV/AIDs and cancer that required narcotic medicines to manage moderate and severe pain in Nigeria could access these medicines.

He also said that these patients and those suffering from injuries caused by accident and violence, chronic illnesses and those recovering from surgery undergo untold suffering due to lack of opioid analgesics which can easily control pain.

The minister explained that in order to address these gaps, the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, UNODC, had developed the national policy for controlled medicines in line with the spirit of the 3 international drug control conventions meant at protecting human health by ensuring access to controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes while preventing diversion and abuse.

He informed that the policy offers protection to patients and healthcare professionals within the framework of existing laws and policies as well as a five-year strategic plan of actions to be implemented from March 2018.

"Importantly this data can also be used by law enforcement officials to monitor the use of precursor chemicals and their potential misuse. We hope this data will, therefore, contribute to improved health outcomes and reduce diversion of these controlled substances for illicit purposes and thereby reducing crime in Nigeria’’ he said.

He emphasised that the minimum standards for drug dependence treatment policy document would guide policymakers and hospitals to assess compliance with standards by the health facilities involved in the treatment of drug dependence.

Earlier in his presentation, the Director, Food and Drugs Department, Pharm. Mashood Lawal said that Nigeria was taking the lead on drug-related issues in Africa, in line with NDCMP 2015- 2019 plan.

He also said that the implementation of these policies was critical in enhancing services in tune with best international practice.

Lawal stressed the need for Federal Ministry of Health to increase advocacy for funding and disseminate capacity building of staff across the country to ensure that these practices become sustainable and produce the required impact.      



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