Repositioning Health Sector is Solution to Drug Abuse Epidemic, Says Oshiomhole

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Eminent Nigerians, including former governor of Edo State and national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, and President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, have tasked the federal government to give foremost attention to the health sector in view of its importance to national development, saying repositioning the sector is the only way to end the drug abuse challenge in the nation.

The charge was given at the opening ceremony of the recently concluded 37th Annual National Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), tagged “Edo 2018” and held at SIO Event Centre, Ikpomwan Road, Benin City, Edo State.

ACPN Conference
L-R: Pharm. (Alh) Ahmed Yakasai, president, PSN, presenting an award plaque to Pharm. NAE Mohammed, registrar,PCN, while Dr Alkali, immediate past national chairman, ACPN, watches, during the opening ceremony of the Edo 2018 ACPN national conference, held at SIO Event Centre, Benin City, Edo State, recently.

Chairman of the occasion, Adams Oshiomhole, said he was delighted that community pharmacists across the country found him worthy enough to chair the occasion, noting that since he became the national chairman of the ruling APC, he had been making efforts to ensure that sanity was restored back into the party, which according to him, made him to be unavoidably absent at the conference.

Assuring the ACPN of his support towards improving the healthcare delivery system in the country, Oshiomhole, who was represented by the former secretary to the Edo State Government, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, stated that community pharmacists had so much to do to ensure that the pharmaceutical needs of the nation’s teeming populace were met, adding that repositioning the healthcare sector was the way to end the challenge of drug abuse challenge in the country.

Also speaking at the event, Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, who said he was delighted for the choice of Edo State as the host state for the conference, noted that the vital role of community pharmacists as the closest healthcare professionals to the people should spur them to be more dedicated and passionate about their chosen profession.

Cross section of dignitaries at the conference

The governor, who was represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Edo State, Dr Izielen Asogun, further noted that the conference came at a time that the country was battling the challenge of drug abuse, which he said had continued to ridicule the nation in the eyes of the world.

He added that his administration was intensifying efforts to rid the state of counterfeit medicines, improve the standard of healthcare delivery and ensure that drug abuse was not tolerated.

The governor further stated that the theme of the conference, “Medicine Abuse in Nigeria: A Call to Action For Community Pharmacists”, was apt, considering the challenge facing the healthcare sector and the fact that it was coming shortly after the release of the BBC documentary titled “Sweet Sweet Codeine”, which prompted the federal government to place a ban on the issuance of permits for the importation of codeine.

While delivering his speech at the conference, the president, PSN, Pharm. (Alh) Ahmed Yakasai, noted that the theme was commendable as it served to highlight the various contributions of pharmacy profession to the public, while adding that the conference was unique as it was the first time such multitude would be attending an ACPN conference.

Assuring community pharmacists of maximum support from the PSN and other relevant stakeholders, Yakasai said: “PSN is ever determined and committed to the entrenchment of ideals that will advance the practice of pharmacy, and we are set to achieve this by constructively engaging various stakeholders and regulators through robust advocacy in the last one year.”

Speaking further, the number one pharmacist in the country, identified poor implementation of health insurance in the country as a major challenge hampering effective care delivery by community pharmacists, while assuring that PSN had made far-reaching recommendations in its memo to the Senate, in addition to adequate lobbying for community pharmacy to get its deserved share of roles in the scheme.

Speaking earlier, the immediate past national chairman of ACPN, Dr Albert Kelong Alkali said that he was delighted that the conference would go down in history as one of the conferences that recorded maximum attendance.

He noted that the conference  offered a good opportunity for community pharmacists who had been working since the beginning of the year to unwind and learn, adding that the theme for the year was carefully crafted to reflect the present realities of the country and give a pointer to the future.

The high point of the event was the presentation of award of excellence to the executive governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki; chairman of the occasion, Comrade Adams Oshiomole; and the Keynote Speaker, Prof. Ray Ozolua, a professor of Pharmacology, University of Benin, which was done  by Pharm. Yakasai and the PCN registrar, Pharm. NAE Mohammed.

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