Samuel Adefisoye Lawal is the president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) Chapter. In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Lawal, a final year student of the Faculty of Pharmacy, shares his views on the state of pharmacy education in Nigeria, as well as his assessment of the nation’s healthcare system. Excerpts:
Why did you choose to study Pharmacy?
Well, I grew up among medical representatives and was interested in ensuring optimum therapeutic outcome in patients, in collaboration with other healthcare professionals. That was one of the reasons I settled for Pharmacy as a course.
What were your motivations for contesting for the post of PANS-OOU president?
I strongly believe that to bring about the significant change you want in an organisation or platform, you need to be actively involved to effect the change. I had always aspired to facilitate an atmosphere where confidence will be significantly instilled in student-pharmacists. This prompted me to vie for the position so as to effect the desirable change I had always wanted.
You had some goals set for yourself at the inception of your administration and it’s about six months now into your tenure. How many of these goals have you achieved so far?
By the grace of God we have been able to achieve seventy-five percent of my manifesto promises to the faculty. We have been able to facilitate and acquire podiums all across the levels. Ceiling fans, 360 degree public speaking gadget and social activities have not been lacking in the faculty. We promise we won’t relent until we deliver all our promises.
What aspects of your responsibilities as president do you consider particularly challenging?
Every aspect has always been challenging. But I will personally say that raising of funds for the association, which lies solely on the president as the head of the association, is more challenging.
There have been complaints concerning the pharmacy curriculum, with many students saying it is quite cumbersome and leaves little or no time for social activities. What’s your view on this?
I think the complaint is ubiquitous. In my school for example, we always have lectures which span between seven to nine hours daily. This apparently makes the students to get tired but they still have to wake up at night to write reports of works done during the day.
You and your executive team recently paid a courtesy visit to the national chairman, Association of Community of Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Pharm. Samuel Adekola in his office in Lagos. Tell us the motive of the visit and its outcome.
Some of my executives and I paid a visit to the national chairman to appreciate his tremendous impact towards community pharmacy practice in Nigeria and we are proud that he has been able to hit the ground running, despite the challenges facing the practice at the moment. This is really a fantastic impact and we also paid a visit to discuss one of the key programmes of our association called “PHARMACOPOSIUM”.
Nigeria, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is ranked very low when it comes to adequate healthcare provision for citizens. What can we do as a nation to exit this ignoble rank and get our health sector back to shape?
To be honest, it is disheartening seeing our healthcare system in a quagmire. I strongly believe the way forward to moving to the apogee of quality healthcare system is proper funding. Research should be encouraged and proper grants given to professionals in the health-care sector, while the funds released are copiously monitored. We can’t keep using old techniques to get new results. Once we devise this strategy, even patients from other countries will migrate to get our health services.
What do you think is wrong with the way pharmacy education is being run in Nigeria?
Nothing, and I say that boldly. Pharmacy education has been well structured and it is a professional course. Therefore, it is expected to be rigorous in a way, but despite that, we are on course as we are evolving.
If you have the honour of changing some things about pharmacy education in OOU, what would they be?
To be honest, I will just allocate more time for the students to have their activities.
When you finish from pharmacy school, which area of practice in pharmacy would you consider and why?
Academic pharmacy. I may probably focus on research in oncology. Oncology has always been my dream field.