Worried by the outbreaks of some infectious diseases that have been of global public health concern in recent years, pharmacists across the country have been urged to live up to their responsibility of providing pharmaceutical care which improves patients’ quality of life with minimum risk.
Epidemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed about 800 people across the world in 2003; Ebola, which killed thousands across West Africa, especially Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria in 2014; as well as Lassa fever and Zika Virus, which are still wreaking havoc, have been of special concern to health specialists.
Speaking on the topic, “The Role of Pharmacists in Epidemics or Outbreaks” at the awards ceremony organised by the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs), Lagos State Chapter, to honour its 14 members who were made fellows of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Remigius Ojo Abimbola, director of pharmaceutical services, Mainland Hospital, Yaba, who was the keynote speaker, said pharmacists’ roles include dispensing medications and monitoring patients’ health and progress to maximise their response to the medication.
Part of the responsibilities of pharmacists, he said, includes educating patients on the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications; advising physicians, nurses, and other health professionals on drug decisions; as well as providing expertise on the composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties.
“They ensure drug purity and strength and make sure that drugs do not interact in a harmful way. As drug experts, they are ultimately concerned about their patients’ health and wellness,” he said, calling on pharmacists in all areas of employment and practice to recognise their respective roles and prepare accordingly.
He added that in the event of a pandemic, pharmacists are well-positioned to provide education about prevention and detection of a disease, noting that they can also be a readily accessible resource for immunisation.
Analysing the role of pharmacists in epidemics or outbreaks, the respected pharmacist explained that the International Federation of Pharmacists (FIP) believes that there are certain general principles that need be considered regarding the roles of pharmacists in tackling such issues. He said pharmacists can provide needed services outside the services they normally provide, particularly in the areas of first responder, triage, immunisation, first aid and administration of medicines.
Speaking earlier with Pharmanews at the event, Pharm. Modupe Ologunagba, chairperson, ALPs, Lagos State Branch, said that the purpose of the programme, apart from celebrating members who were newly conferred with fellowship of the PSN, was also to appreciate God upon the association.
“It would be recalled that 70 new fellows were unveiled during the 88th Annual National Conference of the PSN, held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja last November. But the most surprising and interesting thing that we are happy about is that 14 out of these 70 are our members and they belong to the Lagos chapter.”
She further urged pharmacists in the state to join the ALPs, promising that the association would offer them a platform to associate and explore other areas of the profession.
“Being an interest group of the PSN, we are promising that we would offer them a platform for expansion. We would also offer a platform of love, which is a mandate of God to humanity; therefore they should all endeavour to join us and be part of the family,” she said.
She also calls for volunteers to boost ALPs manpower in its collaborative initiative with the Family Health International (FHI 360). FHI 360‘s work in Nigeria addresses a broad range of human development challenges. In collaboration with international and local partners, they combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; expand access to reproductive health; strengthen health care delivery systems; increase food security; and improve education for children.
Also speaking at the event, Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, former national chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), expressed his support for ALPs, noting that he had been following its progress since it was inaugurated in the 80s by himself as the national chairman of ACPN in company of Late Pharm. Bayo Ogunyemi, former PSN national president.
“I am not surprised that ALPS has turned to what it is today in terms of progress and achievement, and I am thankful to God that what started small then has metamorphosed into something massive. But like Oliver Twist, I am hopeful that it can get better.”
Awardees at the event included, Dr Adejunmo Moyosore; Pharm. Christiana Akpa; Pharm. Joke Bakare; Pharm. Olubukunola Adewumi George; Pharm. Folashade Olufunke Lawal; Pharm. Kudirat Ligali; Pharm. Momotu Rametu Omoregbe; Pharm.Edith Uchenna Nwachukwu; Pharm. Olayinka Osinoiki; Pharm. Olusola Popoola; Pharm. Maureen Ebigbeyi; Pharm. Vera Nwanze; Pharm. Monica Doo Eimunjeze; and Pharm. Magaret Obono.