For Nigerian pharmacists to be easily distinguished from patent medicine vendors, while operating in accordance with global best practices, more attention must be paid to manpower development, says eminent pharmacist and astute entrepreneur, Pharm. (Alh.) Yakubu Layi Gobir.
Pharm. Gobir, an Havard Business School graduate, said this while delivering a keynote address on the topic, ‘Manpower Development in Community Pharmacy Practice – Adopting Global Best Practices’, at the opening ceremony of the 35th Annual National Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), held recently at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu, Enugu State.
Gobir, who is the managing director of Smart Mark Limited, Lagos, and founder of Invivo Pharmacy, urged community pharmacists to start looking beyond their confines, so as to grow the profession in line with global standards, adding that it is their collective responsibility to ensure an enduring, respectable, professional and impactful delivery of pharmaceutical services in the community setting.
He further stated that manpower development in community pharmacy practice is not limited to pharmacists alone but to all staff involved in the running of a pharmacy.
“Adopting global best practices in community pharmacy practice is the path to promoting the impact of our profession on national health development goals, and in adopting it, mediocre practices will have to be identified and reformed,” Gobir said.
Gobir, a celebrated entrepreneur, who, in 2003 started Forward Stores, which now has over 65 out lets in Nigeria and Ghana, however lamented that there is a huge shortage of pharmacists in the country.
“The United Kingdom, a developed country with a population of 64 million people and a successful national health system has 2,500 Boots Stores alone. There are 47,391 registered pharmacists, with about 38,867 in England. On the other hand, South Africa with a population of 53 million has 13,474 registered pharmacists – 8,134 females and 5,134 males.
“But in Nigeria, as at 2014, there were 2,705 registered pharmacies, with a vast majority of them in Lagos State, and in 2015, the number grew to 3,426 with the majority still in Lagos,” the Smart Mark boss said.
He further noted that manpower development is a process rather than just a passive activity, saying it involves planning, implementation and results.
He added that for manpower to be effective within an organisation, it must be deliberately planned and included in the overall programme for the staff, adding that such plan must be implemented and the results from the human resource training must be measurable.
According to him, the three major ways that training of manpower in an organisation can be implemented are through formal training, which includes skill acquisition programmes, skill development programmes and formal training towards manpower development; on-the-job training, through which manpower skills and competencies can be developed by experience on the job; as well as professional training, in which an organisation encourages and sponsors professional training and continuing education programme for its staff.
Speaking on the challenges of manpower development in community pharmacy, Gobir disclosed that most community pharmacists misplace their priorities by paying the most attention to physical and capital resources rather than investing in the human resources, which according to him, ultimately harness the other factors of business into maximising profit yields.
“Other challenges facing manpower development include: lack of incentives and rewards to personal development; passive competition, or better still, absence of active competition among pharmacists; wrong attitude of being complacent with just offering products and making sales, while leaving out important gaps on community pharmacy services and pharmaceutical care that is impactful to the customers; and lack of vision-driven pharmacies,” he said.
He however expressed delight that major improvements are beginning to manifest in pharmacy practice generally and in the attitudes of pharmacists in the country.
According to him, “there seems to be paradigm shift towards global best practices as a number of community pharmacists are beginning to develop skills and competencies in offering patient care services along with quality product delivery.”
The veteran entrepreneur, who returned to pharmacy practice in 2014, also encouraged community pharmacists to be more service-oriented by investing more in their workforce training in order to increase productivity and quality service delivery.
“In addition, community pharmacy owners should build their businesses with global-standard vision at heart; they should see themselves as mirrors of the profession to the public eye; incentives and rewards, no matter how little, should be introduced to personnel that undergo any form of skill development, while bodies such as the PSN and PCN should intensify discussions towards making policies to regulate and ensure manpower development and continued training within community pharmacy practice in Nigeria,” he concluded.