– As PCN, PSN, NAFDAC make wake up calls
The Nigeria Association of Pharmacists in Academia (NAPA) has reiterated the urgent need for Nigeria to devote more attention and resources to research activities, in order to enhance the development of the nation’s pharmaceutical industry.
Making the call at its 18th National Scientific Conference, which was held virtually from 24 to 26 August, 2020, NAPA called on the Nigerian government and other stakeholders to purposefully sponsor research endeavours in the pharmaceutical industry, stressing that this will help Nigeria to occupy its rightful place in the pharmaceutical map of the world.
While speaking on the theme of the conference “Purposeful Pharmaceutical Research and National Development”, the national chairman of the association, Professor Emmanuel Chinedum Ibezim, stated that the COVID-19 experience has shown that purposeful research is an indispensable endeavour for national development.
Ibezim observed that the strength of any nation in any field of human endeavour is tied strongly to its capacity for research in the desired area, adding that any nation or institution that downplays research and toys with its researchers would always find itself at the very lowest rung of the development ladder.
According to him, “China as a nation today is increasingly waxing stronger and almost turning the table of industrialised nations because of her deep commitment to purposeful research. They have research ideas and initiative on almost every human endeavour one can think about, and that is why they are coming up with staggering inventions, so much so that the entire humanity is now dependent on her for supply of almost anything on earth.
“When China now coughs, humanity panics. India is gradually following suit. Do we then ask ourselves where the giant of Africa falls in this unfolding scenario? Your guess is as good as mine,” Ibezim stated.
In his remark at the event, the Registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharm. (Dr) Elijah Mohammed, affirmed that research is a catalyst to the industrial revolution of any nation.
While stressing that research is the bedrock of national development, the PCN registrar pointed out that Nigeria is not in any way close to the level of research endeavour that can spark development in the country.
He however reiterated the commitment of the council to partnering with researchers that are willing to embark on research works that will enhance the development of the nation’s pharmaceutical sector.
“Development in the pharmaceutical sector cannot be achieved without robust research in the universities and research institutes. PCN is willing to collaborate with anyone on any research topic that will enhance the development of pharmaceutical industry. Nigeria pharmacists should be able to come up with solution to Covid-19, either as vaccine or drug”, Mohammed enthused.
Also speaking at the event, the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, charged pharmacists in the country to diligently work towards developing the nation’s pharmaceutical industry.
According to him, “COVID-19 has given us opportunity to reflect on the state of the Nigeria pharmaceutical sector. Let us wake up. There is a lot we can do. Let’s not wait for people to produce for us to import. Instead, we should be producing for people to import.”
On her part, the Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, reiterated the commitment of the agency to work with pharmacists to enhance the development of the industry.
“Without a strong NAFDAC, the Nigeria pharmaceutical industry cannot be strong. NAFDAC is now in a better position to collaborate with academic researchers. We can have a table talk first and then take it up from there. The Central Bank of Nigeria has rolled out a grant. I want to charge pharmacists to explore the fund. We should have our hypotheses ready,” Adeyeye said.
Earlier in his speech, the keynote speaker at the conference, Dr Lolu Ojo, lamented that about 80 per cent of drugs in Nigeria are imported, adding that even the remaining 20 per cent that are manufactured in Nigeria are fully dependent on foreign input. He therefore reiterated the need to look inward.
Ojo pointed out that funding is the greatest barrier to research in the Nigerian pharmaceutical sector. He therefore called on the government and institutions to support research in the sector.
“Pharmacists need to look inward; pharmacists need to collaborate. We need stimulus fund in the pharmaceutical industry. We need pharmacy research fund”, the keynote speaker said.