Community pharmacy has made me a fulfilled person – Pharm. Adesanya

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(By Adebayo Oladejo)

In this interview with Pharmanews, Pharm. Stella Adesanya, managing director, Medhope Pharmaceuticals Limited and one-time national vice-president, Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), spoke extensively on her passion for community pharmacy and the roles of ALPs in the growth of pharmacy practice in Nigeria. She also expressed her views on the challenges besetting pharmacy practice in the country and how they can be surmounted. Excerpts:

 

Tell us about yourself

I am Pharm. (Pastor) Stella Adesanya. I am from Ogun State, Shagamu precisely. I got married to an Ogun State-born man, too, precisely from Ijebu Ode. I had both my primary and secondary education in Shagamu, Ogun State, before I proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, where I studied Pharmacy.

 

Looking back, would you say studying Pharmacy was a good decision?

Pharmacy was the best thing I ever experienced in life. In fact, I really thank God for making it possible for me to reproduce myself because my first son is a pharmacist and I am always happy for that. It was actually not my making; it was God’s. Even, with the way I am seeing it, it’s as if God wants to make Pharmacy a generational thing in my family.

 

What was the profession like when you qualified, compared to what we have now?

In those days, when we came out of the university, Nigeria was still better because when you were doing your residency, you would be given your own car. So we were all looking forward to passing out of the university and starting to practise the profession because there were lots of benefits to enjoy. But, nowadays, things are not the same. Still, if one is hardworking and focused, one can still make it in Pharmacy.

 

What major roles have you played in the pharmaceutical sector so far?

I was once the national vice-chairman of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), when Pharm. Mrs Margaret Vann from Kaduna was the national chairman. We were there for six years of two terms, and we did all that what was necessary to be done at that time to make our impact felt in PSN. Also, at the level of PSN, I’ve always been helpful whenever I’m called upon for duty. Pharmacy is my whole life and I stay in my pharmacy all day. The only time I’m not in my pharmacy is when I’m in church.

 

What can you say about the impact of the ALPs on pharmacy profession in the country?

I was one of the pioneer members of ALPs and we were encouraged to set up the association by the wife of former Head of State, Mrs Yakubu Gowon, in the 80s. She encouraged us to come together so as to affect the lives of our men positively. She said we would make a great impact by coming together, and we did. We have been a supporting group to PSN since then and we are still performing that role up till today.

We women are good at stabilising things, and that is what the association is doing at the national and state levels. We are not in competition with any group because we always recognise that men are the heads and that our role is to support and encourage them. In Lagos State for example, the association has been doing its best to assist the first lady in her health programmes, especially on general wellness, child education and how to make sure that children are not abused. We also lecture our youths on HIV/AIDS and proper use of drugs, etc.

 

What are the challenges facing pharmacy profession in Nigeria and how do you think they can be surmounted?

The number one challenge that I see is the issue of ‘acceptability’ of the profession by certain people. But one thing I know is that it is when you make an impact in the life of people that you will be accepted; it is when you add value to people’s life that you will be accepted. So, I believe that if every pharmacist in every area of their sphere of life tries to do what he or she is expected to do, we will have no problem with acceptability.

This is why I like community pharmacy a lot because it has to do with the wellness of the people and we relate with people individually. When people have a need, they will come to us. Optimal health of the people is what community pharmacy is all about and when you are able to focus on that, you will be respected; when you speak, people will listen to you. As a community leader, people do come to ask for my opinion on several issues and I have never failed to attend to them.

Again, there is one thing I want all pharmacists – whether industrial, community, hospital, academia or those at the PCN or PSN – to be mindful of: we should all speak with one voice. I know speaking with the same voice is a bit difficult, but if we respect each other’s opinions and work together, it would be easier for us to speak with the same voice and it will make other healthcare practitioners to respect us, because a house that is divided against itself will never stand.

Moreover, I have always advocated that the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) should be allowed to take its proper place in the scheme of things. I thank God for the new leadership that PCN now has, as we have our own there now and I believe that the Lord will give them wisdom to be able to carry us through, because they are the ones that will interpret the policy of government to us in a language that we will understand.

 

Would you say you are a fulfilled person?

Yes, the fact that I am able to reproduce myself shows that I am fulfilled and whenever I look back, I give thanks to God. Fulfillment is in our hands and I keep telling people that it is not the number of jeeps that you park outside or the number of houses that you have that makes you a fulfilled person. All you need to do is impact people’s lives, have the fear of God, be focused, don’t engage in dirty business and wait for God’s blessings. If all pharmacists, irrespective of their area of practice could observe these, I am optimistic that pharmacy profession will be better than this.

 

If you were not a community pharmacist, what other aspect of the profession would you have chosen?

If I was not in community practice, I would have chosen the academia because I love studying a lot. I love reading as it keeps me abreast of what is going on within the profession. But, presently, community practice and church activities take much of my time because community pharmacy is not all about drugs but the totality of the person practising it. In this community, we ensure that our youths are not idle or unemployed. So, I have a lot in my hands as a community pharmacist and I am happy that I found myself in the profession.

 

What is your advice to young pharmacists out there who are looking up to people like you?

What I will tell them is to be focused. They have already got a good thing in their hands because pharmacy is the basic thing that they need. They should also have the fear of God in whatever they do. I see young pharmacists of nowadays getting employed in the private sector, government establishments and so on and the majority of them are doing fine. So my candid advice to them is that they don’t need to run abroad for any reason, unless they want to go there for their master’s or proceed in their studies. This country is a good place and there are diamonds and gold here. They can practise here and make it. All they need to do is to look for a mentor and ensure they learn from their mentors.

 

 

 (Community Practice, Interview)

By Adebayo Oladejo

 

 

In this interview with Pharmanews, Pharm. Stella Adesanya, managing director, Medhope Pharmaceuticals Limited and one-time national vice-president, Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), spoke extensively on her passion for community pharmacy and the roles of ALPs in the growth of pharmacy practice in Nigeria. She also expressed her views on the challenges besetting pharmacy practice in the country and how they can be surmounted. Excerpts:

 

Tell us about yourself

I am Pharm. (Pastor) Stella Adesanya. I am from Ogun State, Shagamu precisely. I got married to an Ogun State-born man, too, precisely from Ijebu Ode. I had both my primary and secondary education in Shagamu, Ogun State, before I proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, where I studied Pharmacy.

 

Looking back, would you say studying Pharmacy was a good decision?

Pharmacy was the best thing I ever experienced in life. In fact, I really thank God for making it possible for me to reproduce myself because my first son is a pharmacist and I am always happy for that. It was actually not my making; it was God’s. Even, with the way I am seeing it, it’s as if God wants to make Pharmacy a generational thing in my family.

 

What was the profession like when you qualified, compared to what we have now?

In those days, when we came out of the university, Nigeria was still better because when you were doing your residency, you would be given your own car. So we were all looking forward to passing out of the university and starting to practise the profession because there were lots of benefits to enjoy. But, nowadays, things are not the same. Still, if one is hardworking and focused, one can still make it in Pharmacy.

 

What major roles have you played in the pharmaceutical sector so far?

I was once the national vice-chairman of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), when Pharm. Mrs Margaret Vann from Kaduna was the national chairman. We were there for six years of two terms, and we did all that what was necessary to be done at that time to make our impact felt in PSN. Also, at the level of PSN, I’ve always been helpful whenever I’m called upon for duty. Pharmacy is my whole life and I stay in my pharmacy all day. The only time I’m not in my pharmacy is when I’m in church.

 

What can you say about the impact of the ALPs on pharmacy profession in the country?

I was one of the pioneer members of ALPs and we were encouraged to set up the association by the wife of former Head of State, Mrs Yakubu Gowon, in the 80s. She encouraged us to come together so as to affect the lives of our men positively. She said we would make a great impact by coming together, and we did. We have been a supporting group to PSN since then and we are still performing that role up till today.

We women are good at stabilising things, and that is what the association is doing at the national and state levels. We are not in competition with any group because we always recognise that men are the heads and that our role is to support and encourage them. In Lagos State for example, the association has been doing its best to assist the first lady in her health programmes, especially on general wellness, child education and how to make sure that children are not abused. We also lecture our youths on HIV/AIDS and proper use of drugs, etc.

 

What are the challenges facing pharmacy profession in Nigeria and how do you think they can be surmounted?

The number one challenge that I see is the issue of ‘acceptability’ of the profession by certain people. But one thing I know is that it is when you make an impact in the life of people that you will be accepted; it is when you add value to people’s life that you will be accepted. So, I believe that if every pharmacist in every area of their sphere of life tries to do what he or she is expected to do, we will have no problem with acceptability.

This is why I like community pharmacy a lot because it has to do with the wellness of the people and we relate with people individually. When people have a need, they will come to us. Optimal health of the people is what community pharmacy is all about and when you are able to focus on that, you will be respected; when you speak, people will listen to you. As a community leader, people do come to ask for my opinion on several issues and I have never failed to attend to them.

Again, there is one thing I want all pharmacists – whether industrial, community, hospital, academia or those at the PCN or PSN – to be mindful of: we should all speak with one voice. I know speaking with the same voice is a bit difficult, but if we respect each other’s opinions and work together, it would be easier for us to speak with the same voice and it will make other healthcare practitioners to respect us, because a house that is divided against itself will never stand.

Moreover, I have always advocated that the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) should be allowed to take its proper place in the scheme of things. I thank God for the new leadership that PCN now has, as we have our own there now and I believe that the Lord will give them wisdom to be able to carry us through, because they are the ones that will interpret the policy of government to us in a language that we will understand.

 

Would you say you are a fulfilled person?

Yes, the fact that I am able to reproduce myself shows that I am fulfilled and whenever I look back, I give thanks to God. Fulfillment is in our hands and I keep telling people that it is not the number of jeeps that you park outside or the number of houses that you have that makes you a fulfilled person. All you need to do is impact people’s lives, have the fear of God, be focused, don’t engage in dirty business and wait for God’s blessings. If all pharmacists, irrespective of their area of practice could observe these, I am optimistic that pharmacy profession will be better than this.

 

If you were not a community pharmacist, what other aspect of the profession would you have chosen?

If I was not in community practice, I would have chosen the academia because I love studying a lot. I love reading as it keeps me abreast of what is going on within the profession. But, presently, community practice and church activities take much of my time because community pharmacy is not all about drugs but the totality of the person practising it. In this community, we ensure that our youths are not idle or unemployed. So, I have a lot in my hands as a community pharmacist and I am happy that I found myself in the profession.

 

What is your advice to young pharmacists out there who are looking up to people like you?

What I will tell them is to be focused. They have already got a good thing in their hands because pharmacy is the basic thing that they need. They should also have the fear of God in whatever they do. I see young pharmacists of nowadays getting employed in the private sector, government establishments and so on and the majority of them are doing fine. So my candid advice to them is that they don’t need to run abroad for any reason, unless they want to go there for their master’s or proceed in their studies. This country is a good place and there are diamonds and gold here. They can practise here and make it. All they need to do is to look for a mentor and ensure they learn from their mentors.

 

 

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