By Adebayo Oladejo –
Stakeholders at the recently concluded Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State chapter’s Continuing Education Conference have expressed concerns that the dreams of achieving excellent pharmacy practice and best possible medicine in Nigeria may not be achievable in a while.
The conference which held last December at NECA House, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, was graced by notable personalities in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry.
Speaking on the theme of the conference “Good Medicine, Excellent Practice: Myth or Reality?”, chairman of the conference, Pharm. Ebenezer Adeleke, said for the country to have excellent pharmacy practice and safe medicine, there must be a conducive environment for the practitioners to operate. “Some people believe that good medicine and excellent pharmacy practice are not possible in this country, while others believe it is possible, but in reality, we need to examine and re-examine the way we practise,” he noted. “Are we doing the right thing in the right way? Is there an enabling environment to achieve this purpose? And we must also note that we cannot achieve the desired result without the cooperation of the people.”
Continuing, he said, “We are happy now that the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has been reconstituted and we believe that there will be a conducive environment for us to operate henceforth; but I want to implore the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) not to rest on its oars, as there are still issues of fake drugs in the country, while some people still produce drugs from their toilets.”
While delivering the keynote address titled “Good Medicine, Good Practice: Myth or Reality?, Pharm. AzubikeOkwor said it was not easy to assure good medicine and good pharmacy practice in the country because there were still challenges of widespread counterfeiting, poor storage facility, poor quality assurance during manufacturing and problem of electricity, coupled with the problem of excessive decomposition of active ingredients, as a result of exposure to high temperature and high humidity, among others.
The respected pharmacist and immediate past president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), also revealed that, while he personally believed in excellent practice and safe drugs, such expectations might not be achievable yet, due to various challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry.
“How do we have good practice when most private medicine outlets still prefer to engage the services of untrained staff in the provision of pharmaceutical service to the populace? When most of them still sell prescription medicines to patients without prescriptions, or when medicines are not appropriately labelled or not labelled at all? He asked rhetorically.
Okwor however noted that, with a focused approach, as exhibited by many other communities of pharmacists across the globe, it was still possible to attain the goal. He added that the country desperately needed a comprehensive strategy that would unify the efforts of all the stakeholders, including the government, drug companies, health care professionals, regulatory agencies, civil societies, judicial system and the citizens, to combat poor quality medicines and create the enabling environment for pharmacists to serve the society optimally.
He also commended the ACPN, Lagos State chapter, which he described as the most vibrant and active technical group of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria. “Lagos State is a pacesetter state and so also is the ACPN Chapter of the state,” he said. “Also, the leadership of the chapter is usually God-given from year to year, and I am always impressed with what they are doing to move the practice of pharmacy forward in this country.”
Speaking earlier with journalists, Pharm. AminuYinkaAbdusalam, chairman, ACPN, Lagos, said the essence of the seminar was to reactivate the members’ knowledge base and to update them on the new trends in the practice of pharmacy. He explained that the seminar was an annual programme, adding that in Nigeria, the level of expertise of pharmacists had yet reached the level of other specialists like oncologists, opticians and so on. This, he said, necessitated the need for training and retraining, so as to be relevant and as well follow the dynamics in the development of pharmacy practice in Nigeria. He added that the training strategy was not only happening at the state level, but also at the zonal areas of the state.
Speaking on the choice of the theme of the conference, Aminu disclosed that having excellent practice and good medicine is possible, depending on the conduciveness of the environment but also argued that there were so many factors militating against it. “It is really a complex situation,” he said, “but we pray that, in due course, we will have a well-developed infrastructure and constant power supply that will make our environment conducive in Nigeria. If you travel to some African countries, you will find out that the level of practice there is somehow encouraging than what we have here, because apart from the fact that the society is so free, almost everybody is selling medicine in Nigeria. ”
“Also, in terms of enforcement,” he emphasised, “we are not observing up to 30 per cent of the enforcement in this country and therefore exposing members of the public to the danger of inappropriate medicine and that is why you see that today, there are lots of chronic ailment coming up. So, it is high time those in the position do something about these challenges and rise up to the situation before it gets out of hand.”
Other dignitaries at the event include: Pharm. Olufemi Ismail Adebayo, national chairman, ACPN; Pharm. Bisi Bright, one of the guest speakers; Pharm. DejiOshinoiki, chairman, Board of Trustees, Lagos State PSN; Pharm. AkintundeObembe, chairman, PSN, Lagos State; Pharm. Regina Ezenwa; Pharm. GbengaOlubowale; Pharm. Anieh Felix Anieh, among others