In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) chapter, Nonso Benedict Nwaneki, shares pertinent views on issues surrounding pharmacy education and practice in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Briefly tell us about yourself including your academic background
My name is Nonso Benedict Nwaneki, I am a native of Enugwu-Agidi in Njikoka LGA area of Anambra State. I hold a B.Sc. degree in Zoology from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and I am currently a final year student of the department of pharmacy in the same university.
What prompted your decision to study Pharmacy, after obtaining a degree in Zoology?
My decision to study pharmacy was personally motivated. However, my passion for medicines and love for human lives also made me to go for it.
What are the challenges facing pharmacy students in your school and how can they be surmounted?
There are different kinds of problems facing pharmacy students in my school but the most important one is lack of infrastructure. Although the current vice chancellor, Prof. Joe Ahaneku is gradually solving the problems, there are still so many things needed to be done. The laboratories are not well equipped; the learning environment, especially the classrooms, are not conducive enough for learning and there are not enough hostels for students. Although we are hopeful that with the efforts of the management so far, all these challenges will soon be over.
How would you assess pharmacy profession in Nigeria?
Pharmacy profession in Nigeria is still developing. It has not gained enough experience to be able to stand where it should. It is only in Nigeria that a clinic, especially the private ones can be run without the services of a pharmacist. It is in Nigeria that doctors , nurses and even non-health workers can prescribe and dispense drugs at will. In the developed world, pharmacists are the only authorities on drugs. Here,it is not so.Even patent medicine vendors run pharmacies and sell prescription medicines at will. So, with these challenges, we still have a long way to go in the development of pharmacy practice to global standards.
How about pharmacy education, what are the challenges?
In my own opinion, the challenges can be grouped into infrastructural and academic. Infrastructural challenges include: inadequacy of befitting hostels for students;poor library facilities; dilapidated lecture halls and lack of standard laboratories.Concerning academic challenges, the incessant strikes by ASUU has done more harm than good to pharmacy education in this country. Poor attitude on the part of the lecturers towards the students is another challenge. Lastly,government has failed to make education attractive to students in this country as many drop out of school due to social and psychological reasons.
How do you see the much-publicised Pharm.D programme?
Well, Pharm.D as a programme is a broader B.pharm degree. Students are expected to spend six years and get exposed to more clinical courses.But the truth remains that not all pharmacy schools can afford it.
The national secretariat of the PANS will be relocated to your school this August, how do you feel being the outgoing president of the association in UNIZIK?
I am delighted to be the sitting president that attracted the secretariat to my school. To be sincere, it is a thing of joy and it is the first of its kind. I believe that by next session, January 2016, when I shall be handing over to a new person, we shall also make sure that the light never goes out.
Where do you see PANS, UNIZIK in the next five years?
I see PANS UNIZIK moving from glory to glory and in the next five years which would be culminating in our tenth anniversary, the faculty should have graduated ten different sets.By then, too, those who have graduated would have become prominent pharmacists, professors, captains of industries and many more. By that time, Pharmanews would beam more light on us (Laughs).