Patent medicine dealers in Nigeria should be used as ad-hoc workers in the implementation of immunisation programmes in Nigeria, national president of the National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine (NAPPMED), Prince Joel Odoh, told newsmen in Enugu on Monday.
Prince Odoh said the union’s over 627, 000 registered members across the federation already had a structure to take the scheme to the grass-roots with efficiency and professionally.
In his words, “I recall when we had a roundtable with the honourable minister for health last August. I made a case for the ministry to engage our members for immunisation programmes instead of hurriedly training non-health professionals and sending them to the field. This is about health.
“Patent medicine dealers have been in this field for many years. Our association is over 60 years. Some of us have trained medical personnel from this business. Some know everything about drugs. Why can’t the health ministry use our structures to immunise our people effectively so that they can gain more from the government and also see that as encouragement to do more?”
He demanded encouragement from the government to enable members of the union to serve the masses better.
In his words, “The government should give us access to loans. We thank First Bank that has come to our aid. They provided that we use our certificate to obtain loans as collateral.
“If not, nobody has come to assist us. We have no money to stock our shops to meet what the villagers require. The villagers at times do not have funds, and we still give them drugs to get well. We appeal to the government to make funds available as loans and grants to our members.”
On alleged sale of fake drugs and the consequences by some members, Prince Odoh said, “We sell genuine drugs. Our own is to give one what he or she wants. If they say ‘don’t sell’, we don’t. One cannot just come and say give me drugs and I will give. There are some drugs that are not sold without prescription. We look into the person that recommended such.
“We follow our own ethics. There are drugs that we call ‘over the counter’. We sell them. NAPMED is doing a lot of jobs in this country. If we have not been doing a good job, and every patent member, as the quack they always call us, kill one person in a day, today Nigeria will not exist. If 627, 000 patent medicine dealers continue killing one person every month, today Nigeria would have been written off. Nigerians should be encouraging patent medicine dealers.”