I was in Sokoto from 29 July to 2 August to attend the 21st Annual National Scientific conference of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), themed “Innovative Disruptions in Pharmacy Practice: A Road Map for Hospital and Administrative Pharmacy Practice in Nigeria”.
The five-day conference, held at International Conference Centre, Sokoto and Gingiya Hotel and graced by hospital pharmacists from all over the country, will continue to be remembered in years to come in the ancient city for its impacts, especially as it was held in the state at a time there was a cloud of fear of insecurity in the northern part of the country.
While the Sokoto State Government must be commended for leaving no stone unturned to provide the enabling environment for the conference, the leadership of the AHAPN must be commended for not getting swayed by fear of insecurity and for mobilising hospital pharmacists from all over the country to the historic city of Sokoto for a very memorable conference.
I covered the street enlightenment campaign against drug abuse by the AHAPN members on the first day of the conference and was impressed with the determination of the AHAPN to educate the populace on the dangers of drug abuse and why they should stay away from substance abuse.
This is particularly important because Sokoto was one of the states the menace of drug abuse affected seriously when it came to the fore as a serious public health and security challenge last year, before NAFDAC prohibited the sale and use of codeine-containing cough preparations. At the peak of the codeine crisis, the wife of the Sokoto State governor, Hajiya Maryam Tambuwal, as well as other governors’ wives in the north, had to step in to support the government to tackle the menace. They equally supported the establishment of a well-equipped rehabilitation centre in Sokoto to help address the growing incidence of drug abuse, which was threatening to spiral out of control in not only the state but other northern states. Thankfully, the intervention efforts was fruitful and the incidence of drug abuse in Sokoto has been drastically reduced.
Nevertheless, I was happy that Sokoto residents on major roads like Western Bypass, Kalabaine Road, Maiduguri Road and Achida Road of Gawon Nnana Area trooped out in numbers to listen to the hospital pharmacists and get educative leaflets on the menace of drug abuse distributed by AHAPN members.
It was also fitting that the long enlightenment campaign walk was led by leaders of the AHAPN among whom were Pharm. (Dr) Kingsley Amibor, the national chairman; Pharm. Munir Elelu, deputy president, PSN; Pharm. Ibrahim Binji Haliru and Dr Daniel Orumwense, Fellows of PSN and other respected members of AHAPN.
The opening ceremony of the conference was no less memorable as it was graced by distinguished dignitaries among whom were Dr Muhammad Ali Nname, Sokoto State commissioner for health; Pharm. (Alh.) Almustapha Othman Ali, permanent secretary, Sokoto State Ministry of Health; and President of the PSN, Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, among others.
The icing on the cake at the opening ceremony was the thought-provoking presentation on the theme of the conference by Professor Noel Wannang. The distinguished keynote speaker told the AHAPN members what they needed to do to create a niche for themselves, noting that the health system, like every other system, is dynamic. He urged hospital pharmacists to let their training be their roadmap, stressing that Nigeria is in shortage of professionals that will do the right things to help the citizens
The presentation of Professor Wilson Erhun, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, the next day, was in the same vein with that of Professor Wannang, as he listed the ten vital steps that AHAPN members must follow to take their practice to the next level.
If the lessons in those two presentations and the contributions of other participants at the AHAPN conference in Sokoto are imbibed and implemented, I have no doubt that the hospital and administrative pharmacists can innovatively disrupt their area of practice and continue to remain relevant and crucial to quality healthcare delivery in Nigeria.