Pharm. Oyim Elechi, is the Assistant Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki Ebonyi State. He had served the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists (AHAPN) at various capacities, at different times. He was Assistant National Secretary, PSN; Chairman, AHAPN Ebonyi State branch; Assistant National Secretary, AHAPN; National Secretary, AHAPN; and others. He is a major aspirant for the position of the AHAPN national chairman, in the forthcoming election, scheduled to hold at the 20th Annual National Scientific Conference of AHAPN, from 30 July to 3 August 2018, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. In this exclusive chat with Pharmanewsonline, Pharm. Elechi speaks on the kind of height and progress he wants for hospital and administrative pharmacy practice in Nigeria, if he emerges the national chairman of AHAPN.
You were a former national secretary of AHAPN. What informed your participation in organised activities of AHAPN?
I gained employment into to the public service as a matter of opportunity not necessarily because I desired it. And so when I got into the system, I discovered that a lot of things were not in their proper perspective especially in the area of the quality of our practice and also the welfare and conditions of services of hospital pharmacists in Nigeria. And this became the driving force which propelled me into pharmaceutical activism. In 2004, I was first elected Chairman of AHAPN Ebonyi State branch and then I was later elected Assistant National Secretary in 2006 at Asaba. Our members thereafter overwhelmingly honoured me by offering me the opportunity to have served them as National Secretary (2009-2012) at the AGM held at Imo Concorde Hotels, Owerri in 2009.
I would therefore say that my participation in organised activities of AHAPN was borne out of personal enthusiasm on one hand and on the other the abiding need to bring about positive change in the quality of our practice and also make the difference in the welfare and conditions of services of hospital and administrative Pharmacists in Nigeria.
Tell us more about your involvement in pharmaceutical activities in the past, aside that of AHAPN?
I had served as a Pharmaceutical Inspector in Ebonyi State from 2004 to 2014.In this capacity I was a member of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Committee (PIC) of the Ebonyi State Office of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and was involved on part-time basis in the routine inspection, registration and or re-certification of Pharmaceutical Premises and Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors’ Premises for licensing annually. In doing this, we were guided by the need to enthrone best practices and standards in the quality of practice obtainable in the pharmaceutical sector in Ebonyi State and to also ensure that the premises conform to the rules of engagement as prescribed by PCN.
I also had the privilege to serve as Chairman, Welfare Implementation Committee of PSN Ebonyi State branch, between 2005 to 2007 and was in-charge of the implementation of a Welfare Scheme for Pharmacists in the state. I also served as Secretary and Chairman of the Pharmacy week Planning Committees of PSN Ebonyi State branch in 2005 and 2014 respectively. An overwhelming majority of pharmacists in Nigeria also bestowed on me the outstanding honour and privilege of having served them as Assistant National Secretary of the PSN between 2012 and 2015.
In this capacity, I was also opportune to have served as the Acting National Secretary at times in the absence of the substantive National Secretaries then, Pharm. Victor Okwuosa and Pharm. Iyiola Gbolagade and I contributed my own quota to the advancement of the cause of our profession in Nigeria.
You are one of the aspirants contesting for the position of the national chairmanship of the AHAPN, in the forthcoming national conference of the association holding 30 July to 3 August 2018. Running with the slogan “Elechi is the answer”, could you state some of the answers you have got to resolve the challenges of hospital and administrative pharmacists in the country?
One of the major challenges we face as hospital and administrative pharmacists in Nigeria is the practice environment. You know pharmacy profession is an evolving one. We are moving from the traditional roles of Pharmacists as dispensers to offering a more comprehensive pharmaceutical care which includes: Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM), Pharmaco-vigilance, Prescription validation and audit.etc. But the greatest challenge we face is that whereas these practices have already taken roots in the western world with hospital pharmacists making important contributions in the patient-care chain, the authorities in Nigeria appear to have developed clay footedness in accepting and embracing the wind of change blowing across the globe in the area of pharmaceutical services in the hospital.
If elected as AHAPN National chairman, by God’s grace, I intend that the standards of our practice must be harmonised across the country. We would also segment the standards of practice according to the various levels of healthcare provision of primary, secondary and tertiary. We shall work closely with council on this project and we would be insisting on strict enforcement of the regulations by council. It is also my intention that the concept of Unit dose Dispensing System (UDDS) and the philosophy of pharmaceutical care would be enthroned as a minimum benchmark of practice at the tertiary level of provision of Pharmaceutical services in this country .In this wise, council would also be made to set standards and guidelines for this and we shall follow up on this through advocacy to the appropriate quarters.
The unavailability of essential medicines in many hospitals across the country is no longer news. This assertion was given credence to by even the First Lady of the Country, Hajia Aisha Buhari when sometime last year she visited State House Clinic and observed to her utter dismay that there were no basic medicines such as paracetamol. This undoubtedly remains an aberration and is totally unacceptable in the healthcare system. The reasons for this ugly situation varies and range from the practice of different models in the procurement-supply chain management of pharmaceuticals in different healthcare institutions in the country to the operation of a dysfunctional Drug Revolving Fund Scheme (DRFS) in some institutions.
The National Drug Policy of the country prescribes the operation of Drug Revolving Fund Scheme in health Institutions but in most institutions this prescription is observed in breach by their managements. If elected as National Chairman, I shall champion advocacy at a very high level of government which would result in harmonisation of the procurement-supply chain system for pharmaceuticals in all health institutions and bringing them to be in tandem with the prescription of the National Drug Policy on one hand and also we shall seek the enactment of a set of regulations which would strengthen the DRFS with a view to repositioning it as a business concern, a model of practice that would in turn yield good returns on investment to stakeholders annually.
Specifically, what major changes would you effect in hospital and administrative practice, if you emerge the national chairman of AHAPN?
We also intend that the pharmaceutical services departments of health institutions in the country would be restructured to reflect the paradigm shift and new realities in our practice. In line with this sterling objective, we shall cause to be sent in proposals for the creations of five (5) divisions in the department viz: Pharmacy Administration, Clinical Pharmacy, Public Health Pharmacy. Poisons, Drug and Food Information Services, Pharmacy Procurement-Supply Chain management and Drug Production and Quality Assurance. We shall also engage in meaningful dialogue and also pursue the implementation of the specialist pharmacist cardre for holders of the fellowship certificate of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists. This way, there would be abundance of highly skilled professional manpower with increased knowledge on drug administration and management to support the clinicians in the provision of quality healthcare to our patients. As you may be aware, healthcare services is a team work with the patient at the centre of all care endeavours. It is like a relay race where one sprinter hands over the baton to the next person.
Drug abuse and misuse has been a major public health challenge in the country for a while now. What’s your opinion on how best to resolve this issue and what roles can AHAPN members play in this regard?
Information, education and communication remain the major approach in educating of the lay public, especially the youths on the dangers of drug abuse/misuse. The agencies of government responsible for the enforcement of the laws especially on misuse and abuse of narcotics, psychotropic substances and illicit drugs in general must also be alive to their responsibilities. There should be no compromise on this. Strict enforcements of the laws remain the key to winning the war against drug abuse and misuse. The members of AHAPN can play vital roles in the areas of education and information of the public. In fact, it shall form one of the thrusts of our administration agenda, if elected National Chairman .If resources permit, we shall also run unprecedented media blitz on this.
What is your vision for AHAPN in the next 5 Years?
I envision better tomorrow for hospital and administrative pharmacists in Nigeria, a tomorrow wherein excellence would reign on our professional practice in all locations of practice. A tomorrow where the Drug Revolving Fund Scheme would be allowed to run unencumbered and it would be repositioned like an enterprise so as to assure continuous and uninterrupted availability of essential medicines in our hospitals on one hand, and also yield good returns on investments to stakeholders. I envision a tomorrow where conformity in the standards of our practice would be enthroned in all locations of practice across the country. My vision is to have hospital and administrative Pharmacy practice strictly and adequately regulated by council.
I envision a tomorrow where our association, AHAPN would have been repositioned to a model organisation that have climbed the mountaintop and found progress, prosperity and development and the overall happiness and well being of our members would be guaranteed.
On a final note, the above plans of action do not represent an absolute account on a sector-by-sector basis of what I intend to do if elected National Chairman, AHAPN. Rather, it is a modest effort to connect with our members on the task that lies ahead in the collective endeavour of strengthening our practice for better service delivery to our patients and building a better, strong and virile AHAPN.
I therefore ask for the mandate of the members of our Association to enable me performs this duty which my inner being relentlessly desires. I give our members my word of honour, I will deliver. So help me God!