Why government must increase funding for universities – PANS UNIJOS president

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Domchak Yaknan is the president of Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), University of Jos, (UNIJOS) Plateau State. In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Domchak, a final year pharmacy student, raises pertinent concerns about pharmacy education in Nigeria, among other issues. Excerpts:

What motivated you to study Pharmacy?

Actually, it was a personal decision, even though I had some form of orientation and motivation from different personalities, including family and friends, since there is no self-made man.

Besides, it has become a tradition, though it can be faulted, that majority of students who pass through science class in secondary schools end up studying health-related courses. So, it was natural that I too should have such decision and ambition, and I must admit that it also contributed to my decision to study Pharmacy.

I have never had any regret choosing Pharmacy despite the enormous challenges I encountered. Thus, I appreciate God for the opportunity.

 At what point in your academic pursuit did you decide to be involved in PANS politics?

Honestly, it was coincidental. It began with consultations and suggestions made by some members of my class who observed that I had potentials and leadership attributes in me which they believed could be useful for the development of our association. Moreover, it had been my dream and aspiration to add my quota to the development of PANS, UNIJOS. And to the glory of God, I started working towards it and today, the dream has come to fulfillment.

 What are your plans for UNIJOS pharmacy students?

My plans for PANS UNIJOS are incorporated in helping to stimulate, develop and motivate them towards manifesting and exploiting their own potentials. In this regards, PANS UNIJOS is about to attain a milestone achievement by being the first PANS chapter to partner with the state government, especially the ministry of health, as regards carrying out an outreach tagged, Pharmaco-Orientation. The aim is to project pharmacy profession and campaign against drug abuse and misuse by the general public, especially secondary school students.

We have proposed a site for the snack canteen and art recreational garden, where our students can hang out and enjoy the facilities there, under the administration of the dean, Prof. Jacob A. Kolawole.

However, programmes that are still in the pipeline include publishing of the chapter’s magazine which will be launched during the Pharmacy Week, among others.

Are there measures that can be taken to solve the challenge of frequent strike actions by university lecturers? 

It is necessary to pay tribute to the teachers and lecturers that have taught, instilled discipline and moulded the characters of students, especially those in the tertiary institution. Thus, it is quite expedient that every service rendered should be rewarded. But it is worrisome that the Nigerian educational sector has been plagued by incessant industrial actions.

Universities have always been seen as galleries of intellectualism.  Thus, it is necessary that adequate funding be provided for the Nigerian educational sector. This will go a long way in providing conducive learning environment as well as providing and maintaining the infrastructures of the universities.

Implementing the country’s annual budgetary allocation to the educational sector, as well as proper management of the available funds and internal generated revenue, will help to cater for the demands of the universities and other tertiary institutions in the country.

 As PANS president, what would you say are the major challenges associated with studying pharmacy in your part of the country and how can these be tackled?

The challenges facing pharmacy education are numerous, but the major ones are lack of motivation and orientation, as well as non-conducive learning environment.

In addition, pharmacy students’ exposure to practical sessions has been very poor, as most schools of pharmacy devote little or no official time to clinical postings and industrial training for their students. A critical look into this, especially the academic curriculum, will help to correct the problem.

Manpower challenge is another important issue that is affecting pharmacy education in the country. There’s inadequate manpower in pharmacy education and this has been a great drawback for the profession. All stakeholders concerned should put this into consideration.

Other challenges include lack of research grants for pharmacy students and inadequate laboratories and classrooms that can conveniently accommodate students. There is urgent need for more classrooms, libraries, and other learning facilities.

 What would you say are the peculiar challenges facing pharmacy practice in northern Nigeria and what do you think the government should do about them?

The major challenges facing pharmacy practice in this part of the country is lack of orientation, motivation as well as lack of recognition. Even though a lot has been done, there is still need to put more effort to enlighten the general public about the role of pharmacists in the health care delivery system.

Also, government needs to urgently address the issue of inadequate infrastructure and manpower in pharmacy schools especially those in the northern part of the country. Moreover, alumni association should also be encouraged.

In addition, the federal government, through the PCN, should endeavor to accredit pharmacy schools that have not been accredited in the north, as this will go a long way in motivating and encouraging pharmacy education and practice in this region.

 What other grey areas in pharmacy education do you want the leadership of PSN and other stakeholders to address urgently and why?

A review of the pharmacy education curriculum should be a good idea. Although I am not yet in the practice, I think all areas should be reassessed since dynamism gives beauty. Pharmacy education is becoming uninteresting because of the content of the curriculum, as repetition of topics is gradually making the curriculum tedious.

Furthermore, community pharmacy practice should be addressed urgently as it has become an all–comers affair because many people who have no business selling drugs are now selling drugs to the public, thereby competing with professionals who are trained for this purpose. This is very wrong.

 In which area of practice would you like to specialise after graduation?        

As a man for the people, who is always interesting in the affairs of his people as well an conveying their minds, I am looking at administrative pharmacy practice, especially in politics; so I can contribute my quota in restoring the lost glory of pharmacy profession and setting of pace for those coming behind me.

I will focus more on human empowerment and project orientation for both pharmacy students and young pharmacists.

 Where do you see PANS UNIJOS by the time you will be leaving office as the president?                       

With the few innovations I have brought on board, combined with the efforts of my dedicated executive members, majority of whom who will be in the next cabinet, I envisage that PANS UNIJOS will be better than I met it. I see PANS UNIJOS among the top associations in this great university.

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