(By Adebayo Oladejo)
The best way to cushion the effect ofmedicine-related challenges currently plaguing the country is the practice of pharmaceutical care by community pharmacists.
This was the submission of the chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State Branch, Pharm. Aminu Abdulsalam Yinka, at the 2013 Community Pharmacists Day, which was part of the Pharmacy Week held recently by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in Lagos.
The ACPN boss,who describedpharmaceutical care as a practice where the pharmacist takes responsibility for meeting a patient’s drug-related needs and holds himself accountable for meeting those needs, maintained that the situation of health care delivery system in the country has made pharmaceutical care practice unavoidable.
Describing the specific state of health care in the country, Yinka explained, “Many of our people are managing chronic ailments and are on multiple medications;our environment has, over time, been bedevilled by chaotic drug distribution, irrational prescription and use of medicine, self medication and proliferation of fake and counterfeit medicines.”
Challenging participants of the programme, he averred, “Pharmacists remain the experts to meet for appropriate medication, at all times. We are all aware of the fact that medicines occupy a unique position in our healthcare system and they make healthcare credible because they can cure diseases, relieve symptoms and alleviate sufferings. The psychological satisfaction produced by medicines creates a favourable environment on which the preventive and education elements of healthcare can be built with consequent further improvement in health.”
Yinka also added that theme of the programme “Access toSafe Pharmaceutical care: Role of Community Pharmacists” was chosen to meet the present day needs of the public. “The theme of this programme needs to be emphasised, so that members of the public would have the opportunity to use their medicines in a way that would be beneficial to them. The essence of using medicine is to get good results and improved quality of life, and that is what the pharmaceutical care is all about.”
Continuing, the ACPN boss said,“It has been our tradition over the years to take health campaign to the community and today is not an exception as pharmacists all over Lagos are here to encourage the public to visit pharmacists for pharmaceutical care, provide them health information, promotions, counselling on medication in order to discourage misuse and abuse of medicines and also make facilities available for health checks. It is therefore high time every member of the public takes this opportunity to access pharmaceutical care from qualified pharmacists closer to them.”
Speaking in the same vein, the president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, disclosed that, globally, 60 per cent of consumers of health care use pharmacies as the first point of contact when they have issues with their health.The reason, according to him, is because pharmacists are the cheapest professionalsanyone can access and they are the only professionals who do not charge professional consultation fees, when consulted.
Akintayo, who further revealed thatpharmaceutical care practice in the country is at infant level, added that government was just beginning to recognise some aspects of it and that there were other aspects that needed to be integrated into national healthcare plans. “We need to convince the stakeholders, so that they can appreciate the benefit that is accruable to this type of concept,” he said.“It is also important to state that we are beginning to make progress, especially at the level of the public sector, where we have few reforms that have been adopted by government. In the last two years, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria has promoted a new concept of pharmacy software, which is geared towards ensuring appropriate labelling of products. So, drug management, proper labelling are integral parts of healthcare delivery, and these are part of what we are working on. We are also insisting that, as far as pharmaceutical care practice is concerned, the place of pharmacists cannot be taken or replaced.”
Meanwhile, earlier in his address, Gbenga Ashafa, a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who was also the chairman of the programme, commended the ACPN for its unrelenting efforts at bringing healthcare service closer to the people at the grassroots. Ashafa, who was represented by Dr. Wale Ogunbadejo, also said the role and contributions of community pharmacists in healthcare deliverycannot be over emphasised, adding that community pharmacy practice is a calling which only God can reward.
Addressing pharmacists at the event, Ashafa said, “As men of honour which you are, you have joined hands together to affect so many lives positively and I am telling you categorically that pharmacy practice is a huge responsibility, which only a responsible man can handle. Meanwhile, you would all agree with me that the Lagos State Government, under the leadership of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, is also doing its best to improve the provision of healthcare delivery in the state, and I am hopeful that, with your professional contribution, our health sector would soon be a force to reckon with, globally.”
In his thanksgiving message to the ACPN, the Oba of Ikosi/Kosofe Land, HRM Oba Alamu Oloyede Onikosi, who was represented by Chief Lateef Babatunde Taiwo, the Baale of Papa Ikosi Oke, thanked the community pharmacists in the state on the good job they were doing and urged them notto relent in their efforts. He also promised to ensure that the people of the community would be continuously enlightened on the dangers associated with consumption of fake and counterfeit drugs.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that my people have benefited immensely today, in terms of free medical check-ups and health education. My people now know the importance of buying genuine drugs and the danger of counterfeit medicines” he said.