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Community Pharmacists, ASHIA Need Collaboration To Achieve Universal Health Coverage In Anambra – Onyemaechi

Members of Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN),Anambra State Chapter, recently held their 33rd Annual Conference in Awka.
Delivering a Keynote Address at the  conference with theme, ‘ Innovative Strategies for Expanding Community Pharmacy Services in Anambra; A Path to Universal Health Coverage,”  the Managing Director, Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA), Dr Simeon Onyemaechi, said  the agency and community pharmacists play integral roles in ensuring improved health condition of the people through health insurance scheme that helps in achieving Universal Health Coverage, a fundamental human right.
Onyemaechi described Universal Health Coverage  as a dream, journey and destination that requires involvement of major stakeholders in the health sector.
According to him, the health coverage, which ASHIA is helping to achieve in Anambra State is such that  everybody everywhere will have access to healthcare services that are of sufficient quality to be effective without suffering financial hardship.
On the role of community pharmacists in the administration of ASHIA, Dr Onyemaechi said there are members engaged to provide ASHIA facilities with quality-assured medicines for enrolees, adding that to ensure that out-of-stock syndrome doesn’t hamper ASHIA operations, the agency has linkages with some community pharmacists across the state where ASHIA enrolees can visit and get medications if the drugs are not in any of its facilities.
He said community pharmacists can collaborate with ASHIA for more impact through community outreach health programmes, as well as using their reach and services to get more people enrolled in the scheme by referring those having challenges in purchasing prescribed medications.
He said that Governor Chukwuma Soludo, instead of upward review of money for enrollment, has instead increased subsidy for the scheme to ensure that the programme continues.
 Anambra State Chairman of ACPN, Pharmacist Henry Iloh, said the event provided opportunity to critique ASHIA operations in the state and chart a way forward, especially how to get pharmacists’ input in the overall well-being of patients, ASHIA enrollees, citizens and residents of the state.
 Chairman of the event, Pharmacist Ikem Odumodu, said that low budgetary allocation, limited knowledge at subnational level, high out-of-pocket expenditure are challenges to health insurance policy, and called for strategic collaboration to address them.
Some participants at the event, including a one-time Chairman of the association in the state, Pharmacist Uche Akpakama, Secretary, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Anambra State chapter, Pharmacist Pharmacist Onyeka Obidiegwu, and a Fellow, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharmacist Ifeanyi Okeke, said integrating community pharmacists in providing services to ASHIA enrollees will boost operations of the agency.
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