Health sector strikes caused by misplaced priorities – PANS-OOU president
In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Mr Seyi Akinfaderin, outgoing president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye chapter, spoke on the challenges facing pharmacy students generally. The 500 Level student of the Faculty of Pharmacy, OOU, also stated why more universities in Nigeria should offer the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) programme. Excerpts:
Tell us briefly about yourself
My name is Seyi Akinfaderin. I hail from Ondo State and was raised in a family of six. I am an easy going but hardworking person. I am a strong skeptic of the belief that a task is impossible and a staunch believer that where there is a will there is a way.
As a pharmacy student and president of PANS, what are the challenges facing pharmacy students in your school?
The challenges are enormous but the major ones include, one, lecturers’ mode of teaching. While lecturers are meant to lecture, the situation is different when it comes to Pharmacy. Lecturers often have to become teachers because the pharmaceutical profession is such that requires the lecturer to meticulously explain the fundamentals of Pharmacy to the students, so as to reduce mere cramming and improve understanding of the course. This is the same way it is done in advanced countries. If it is not done this way, we will continue to breed pharmacy graduates who don’t know anything else other than what their lecturers have taught them.
Also, learning facilities need to improve. Since Pharmacy is a practical course, it is imperative that necessary equipment be made available so that students can understand those abstract but important concepts of Pharmacy. We need well-equipped laboratories and libraries furnished with relevant and up-to-date books. Learning should also be made easy and interesting to students. Government must play its part in all this.
You emerged PANS-OOU president about a year ago – what prompted your decision to get actively involved in PANS and what were your plans for pharmacy students?
The question is quite interesting but the answer lies in these words “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I strongly believe that if adequately empowered, the ordinary man can achieve that great dream that he has nurtured all his life.
After staying about seven months in office, the PANS-OOU executives have been able to formulate ideas and organise activities that have helped students to maximise their stay in school. They are not just becoming graduates of Pharmacy but graduates who are knowledgeable to make intelligible contributions in the midst of professionals from other walks of life.
How do you see the Pharm.D programme? Should all pharmacy students in Nigeria now go for Pharm.D and not the Pharm.B?
Pharm.D is long overdue in Nigeria because its importance can be never overestimated. In fact, looking at it critically, an intelligent mind will know it is the missing piece in the puzzle of a pharmacist’s life. Little wonder other countries in the world, even in Africa, are making it the minimum qualification to be held by a pharmacist! I think such should be applicable in Nigeria as well.
How do you see the unending rivalry among health care practitioners in the country?
It’s simply lack of unity among the health practitioners and until there’s unity, we may continue to experience the same scenario. Also, you don’t change principles to suit yourself but you can only change yourself to conform to principles. Until all health care practitioners remove the pathetic mentality that other professions other than theirs are inferior; until we start seeing one another as uniquely important, we will continue to suffer from this canker that is bedeviling the health industry.
How do you see the issue of incessant strike actions among health care professionals in the country?
I think the whole issue boils down to misplaced priorities. It is misplaced priorities that make the government to continue paying lip service to the development of the health care sector and the well-being of its citizens. The government has a selfish agenda; so they prefer to divert the economy’s money to their pockets than increase allocation to the health sector or even pay the salaries of health workers. This often forces the health practitioners, too, to misplace their priorities by placing their own priorities above the well-being of their patients.
What’s the effect of strike actions by university workers on pharmacy students?
To be sincere, its effect has been massively negative, demoralising and dementing – so much that a five-year course, if care is not taken, can last for eight years; while a six-year course can take up to 9 to ten years. In fact, some students are now marrying each other while still in school and the story continues to get worse. So a panacea is urgently needed, to once and for all, put a stop to this endemic condition.
Where do you see PANS- OOU, in the next few years?
Coincidentally, I will be leaving office in a few days’ time, while a new leadership will come in. But I am glad that PANS, OOU, is far better than how we met it when we came into office last year. I am hopeful that the next administration will be far better than ours.