Gowon, Jega lament juvenile drug abuse, call for action
For the vision and mission of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacists (NAPharm) to be fully realised in the country, the war against drug abuse, especially among the youth population, must be won by pharmacists in collaboration with other regulatory bodies, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) and immediate past chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, have said.
Gowon, who is an honorary Fellow of NAPharm, and Jega, a guest at the Investiture and Award Night of NAPharm, held at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, on 27 October, 2015, also stressed the need for pharmacists to intensify efforts in curbing the circulation of substandard drugs in the country.
Prof. Jega, who was given the first NAPharm Lifetime Achievement award, for his immeasurable service to his fatherland, decried the upsurge in indiscriminate use of prescription drugs among young people, which has led to the death of thousands.
He noted how the misuse of ethical drugs has become trendy among youths, noting that political thugs and party vanguards are getting hooked on codeine, among other opioid pain medications that are strictly prescription drugs in other countries.
In his words: “I urge the academy and the pharmaceutical profession to pay attention to the way and manner in which prescription drugs are being sold over the counter. This is doing a lot of damage to our youths, in particular, because some of these drugs are addictive.
“Many youths, young men and women, regrettably, can just walk into a patent medicine store or pharmacy and buy these over-the-counter drugs, as many bottles as they wish, and many of them have now become addicted to them. This is causing problems in many parts of the country. I know that it is a very serious problem in the part of the country that I come from.
“So, I believe that having been given this award, it also gives me the opportunity to urge leading and respected pharmacists, whether industrial or professors, to begin to pay attention to ethical issues related to selling drugs over-the-counter, because the damage this is doing to our youths is really going to be massive and needs to be addressed appropriately.”
Commending the new inductees of NAPharm. for having run a good race to reach the zenith of their profession, General Gowon reminded them that to whom much is given, much is required, adding that the critical area of their intervention is overcoming counterfeit drugs in the nation.
Gowon, who recalled the achievements of the late former NAFDAC DG, prof. Dora Akunyili, in combating the menace of fake drugs, stated that though the agency continues to sustain the tempo after her demise, more still needs to be done.
He said practitioners must rededicate themselves to the fight against fake and substandard products all around the country, noting that, while the situation is not peculiar to Nigeria, NAFDAC’s relentless efforts over the years is yet to succeed “as perpetrators are more determined and very much in the unfortunate business.”
The high point of the event was the decoration of the new Fellows, among whom were Professor of Pharmacognosy, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Olukemi Odukoya; Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Matthew Urhoghide; Professor of Pharmacokinetics/Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Chinedum Peace Babalola; Dr Evans Chidomere; Professor of Pharmaceutical Technology & Industrial Pharmacy, Amarauche Chukwu; Pharm. Ngozi Chu-Madu and Pharm. Olakunle Ekundayo.
Also inducted were: Professor Joshua Eniojukan, Professor Mbang Nyong Femi-Oyewo, Professor Isa Marte Hussaini, Professor Jacob Adegboyega Kolawole, Professor Udoma Mendie, Professor Nelson Ochepe, Professor Abiodun Ogundaini, Professor Tiwalade Olugbade, Professor Philip Olurinola and Professor Grace Onawunmi. Others were: Sir Nnamdi Obi, Pharm. Nnamdi Nathan Okafor, Pharm. Ikechukwu Ugwu John, Professor Anthony Obiosa Onyekweli, and Professor Cyril Odianose Usifoh.
Earlier on, President of the Academy, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, explained how fortunate the Academy was, in bringing together bright minds whose education and experience would be jointly and severally shared while they remained Fellows of NAPharm.
The president further highlighted the objectives of the Academy, stating that it would provide a platform to influence national and state policies which would enable the fulfilment of the vision, mission, rights and obligations of Pharmacy.
He therefore urged all pharmacists to perform their roles in the society, saying it is their duty to ensure that things get better, not bitter with Pharmacy.