-As Enugu PSN holds 22nd Annual Scientific Conference
To enhance medicine availability and national security in the country, government and other relevant stakeholders must be willing to move the country away from being an import-dependent one, while striving to advance the goal of the practice from medicine-availability to health-availability, Pharm. Onyeka Onyeibor, managing director, Miral Pharmacy Limited, has said.
Onyeibor made this assertion during his keynote presentation at the 22nd Annual Scientific Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Enugu branch, held at Toscana Hotel, Enugu, recently.
Speaking on the topic, “Medicines availability and national security – challenges and opportunities for an import- dependent economy”, Onyeibor acknowledged that medicines availability is a global issue, which must be resolved by each nation, by ensuring that the medicine needs of its citizens are well catered for.
The Miral Pharm. boss further opined that no nation is truly safe if it cannot guarantee the capacity to make and distribute the medicines it needs in sufficient quantity and quality within its geographical space. Thus, according to him, by role and function, each pharmacist is a security officer, who must ensure at all times the health safety of the populace.
To this end, Onyeibor posited four rules for pharmacists and all members of the healthcare team. They include: Compete less, collaborate more; think health not medicines; ask more; and do more.
While urging all pharmacists to compete less and collaborate more, he said: “We need each of us and all of us to build a vibrant and prosperous community. Medicines availability requires a multi-disciplinary collaboration. How much relief can I get from knowing I have done my job exceedingly well when the failure of the next man to do his part will compromise the result I set out to celebrate? Whether you manufacture or distribute; whether you teach or dispense; we have only one job – safe and effective medicines, available and affordable to the patient.”
He also disabused the minds of the audience from thinking medicines alone, without being health conscious. He maintained that the goal of the practice should go beyond medicine availability to health availability.
In his words: “If a fraction of what is spent on manufacturing, promotion and distribution of anti-malaria products goes to cleaning sewage, there will be significant reduction in malaria burden significantly. Start where you are, create a desk on any public health issue and talk to your community on life choices that will make more drugs unnecessary.”
Condemning the usual question pharmacists ask on whether there is a pharmacy 100 metres away from them, he said that such concern is immaterial at this time, suggesting instead that they should ask relevant questions, such as: whether there is an unserved or an underserved patient one metre or 1000 metres away; how technology can help them break geographical barriers and serve, from Enugu, a customer in Jos; and so on. Answers freeze possibilities, questions liberate thoughts, those that ask more, receive more.”
Stressing the need for pharmacists to do more service, he said: “Facts on ground do not suggest we serve enough as pharmacists. Within our own land we have created swathes of neglected communities. About 50 per cent of Nigerians live in rural areas but our spread and service offer no consideration for demographics. Only 195 out of 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria have a pharmacist and only Lagos, Rivers State, the FCT and possibly Ogun State have a pharmacist in all the local government areas.”
Chairman of Enugu State PSN, Pharm. (Dr) Egbunna Udeorah had earlier appreciated all participants at the conference, especially sponsors and members of the Conference Planning Committee for a job well-done, saying without their immense efforts, the conference wouldn’t have been a success.
The highlight of the conference was the recognition of pharmaceutical manufacturers in Enugu State by Udeorah.
He said: “Some of us may not know that Enugu State houses a block of indigenous manufacturers that the nation’s pharmaceutical market panics so much when their products are not available in the market. Juhel Nig Ltd, Michelle Laboratories Ltd, Nemel Pharmaceuticals Ltd, AC Drugs Ltd, Impact Pharmaceutical Ltd, Vadis Nig Ltd, Ceenek Pharm Ltd, Sidom Pharmaceutical Ltd, Cinnamon Pharm Ltd, Rugal Pharm Ltd, Bulger Pharm Ltd, and more recently, Braunx Nig. Ltd, to mention but few. We are proud of all of you”.