In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, the current national editor-in-chief for the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Ebuka Joseph Alakwem, reveals some of the achievements of his administration, as well as the challenges facing the editorial department of PANS. The final year student of Pharmacy Department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, also discusses the contribution of Sir (Pharm.) Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher of Pharmanews to the development of pharmacy practice in the country. Excerpts:
Why did you choose to study pharmacy?
My decision to study pharmacy was prompted by the professional role pharmacists play in the society – which is to improve the quality of lives of individuals in the society, using both therapeutic and non-therapeutic approaches.
What made you contest for the post of editor-in-chief?
I would say it’s actually due to the passion I have for the association. Also, I contested for the position in order to help keep PANS alive, as well as ensure necessary information is available at every point in time to all pharmacy students across the country.
It has also been my desire to help produce a magazine that will serve the interest of all pharmacy students in the country and, by the grace of God, we now have in the pipeline a magazine called Pharmedia, which will circulate in all member schools. Through this, we hope that our voice, as the future of pharmacy profession, will be heard in the country and beyond.
What are your goals as PANS editor-in-chief?
That is a very interesting question. Basically, the function of the editor-in-chief is to see that high quality publications are published and also ensure that details of PANS’ activities are made available to all students. Therefore I am trying to make sure that at least an article from each school of pharmacy is published in our proposed magazine. The magazine itself will be distributed across all pharmacy schools in the country. I hope, by God’s grace, to achieve this before the end of my tenure.
Since your election as the editor-in chief, what challenges have you noticed within the association?
Since I assumed office, the major challenge I have observed is finance. The association is highly underfunded. Imagine, nothing was in the association’s account as at when it was handed over to us. This is really affecting us, especially members of the editorial board. We have been borrowing money from different people, hoping to give them back, when we can.
Related to this challenge is the fact that PANS does not have any primary source of income; we therefore have to source for funds each time we have a national programme. We source for funds from companies and individuals, sometimes to the extent of missing classes, so as to make sure that the association runs successfully. It is that bad, but I thank God for the wisdom given to the PANS leadership, as we are always equal to the task.
What specific challenges have you faced in your capacity as the editor-in-chief, and how did you handle them?
The greatest challenge I have faced is lack or inadequacy of resources required to carry out editorial work. As I said before, we were handed an account with zero balance, and there were no tools for us to work with. We don’t even have important editorial necessities like laptops, recorder or camera. It has been a very big challenge for me but I am working assiduously in making the work easier for the next PANS chief editor by providing him or her with the necessary equipment to do the work effectively.
How would you assess the contribution of Pharmanews publisher, Pharm. Ifeanyi Atueyi, to pharmaceutical journalism?
Seriously, Sir (Pharm.) Ifeanyi Atueyi is doing great in his chosen career, pharmaceutical journalism, and I admire him so much for this. With no iota of doubt, his contribution to Pharmacy has proven to us that the profession is broad and that pharmacists are the most intelligent people, among healthcare professionals. He is a rare gem and a man that has the interest of pharmacy students at heart. He is a mentor to me and I am sure to numerous pharmacists, both old and young. My prayer is that God will preserve his life and also bless us with more people like him, so that the pharmacy profession can be better than what we are witnessing presently.
Tell us about some of the programmes you intend to carry out before the end of your tenure.
I’m working on organising a quiz competition and essay writing from different schools of pharmacy.This will help to create awareness for the convention that is coming up on 9-15 August 2015 at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu State. Gifts will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions.
Where do you see PANS editorial department by the time you leave office?
I believe that a good name is better than, money. I will ensure that before leaving office, PANS editorial board would have been provided with the necessary items needed to work effectively so as to enable the incoming PANS editor-in-chief to work without encountering unnecessary challenges like the ones I am facing now.