In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Darry Emazor, president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), University of Benin (UNIBEN), spoke on issues related to pharmacy education and practice in Nigeria. He also spoke on the performance of pharmacy schools at the recently concluded second edition of the Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi National Essay and Debate Competition hosted by UNIBEN. Excerpts:
What prompted your decision to study Pharmacy?
As a child, I didn’t know much about Pharmacy, although we had a family pharmacist whom we visited more than our doctor. While growing up, my family wanted me to become a medical doctor. So when I finished secondary school, I applied to study Medicine; but all my efforts for about three times were in futility. Meanwhile, I had always put Pharmacy as a second choice in every of my attempts and I had even promised myself that I was going to study Pharmacy even after graduating as a medical doctor. In my fourth attempt, however, I decided to put Pharmacy as first choice and fortunately I was offered admission to study for Pharm. D in this school. So, I could say that my decision to study Pharmacy had divine backing.
As a pharmacy student and PANS president what would you say are the challenges facing pharmacy students in your school and how can they be tackled?
In my opinion, our first major challenge has to do with the academic. The curriculum here is just too voluminous to ensure proper learning. While I commend the efforts of our lecturers, I would suggest that we expunge some things that are no longer relevant while introducing current issues and trends in the pharmacy profession.
Secondly, most students lack very good esteem of themselves and the pharmacy profession. This stems from lack of mentorship in the profession. This is an area where I think we should work and improve on, as it will eventually result in mutual respect, love and unity.
Although there are other challenges, I consider these two to be the major ones.
How do you see the Pharm.D programme? Should all pharmacy students in Nigeria now go for Pharm.D and not the Pharm.B?
First of all, I believe that the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) degree is the lifeline of this profession. It’s a programme that sustains the relevance of this profession at a time when it is being threatened by an influx of quacks, traders and even other health workers. Pharm.D, no doubt, creates a nexus between the drug and the patient as it ensures provision of better health care services through pharmaceutical care.
Pharm.D is the one and only way forward in pharmacy education in Nigeria and, as such, I would advise that every pharmacy school in Nigeria key into it. Also, Pharm D should be made the minimum benchmark of pharmacy accreditation in all pharmacy schools just as obtainable overseas.
As a student, how would you assess pharmacy profession in Nigeria?
Pharmacy is a fast-growing profession in Nigeria and I can proudly say that our veterans have done so much to make it an admirable one as well. However I believe that much still needs to be done. There is need for unity among pharmacists; there is a saying that ‘united we stand, divided we fall’. We also need to put our resources and strengths together in order to achieve common goals. However, I strongly believe that the future is bright for our dear profession judging from the dynamic and pragmatic attitude of the new generation of pharmacists that are being produced and the desire to set best standards of practice by our older pharmacists.
What can the government do to improve the standard of pharmacy education in Nigeria?
The government, through the National University Commission (NUC), should review the pharmacy curriculum, make Pharm.D the minimum benchmark for accreditation in all pharmacy schools, build more pharmacy schools, and provide best conditions for learning and practice of Pharmacy.
Recently, the second edition of the Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Debate and Essay Competition was held in your school, what do you think of it?
The name and person of Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi means a lot to so many persons. Personally, I will describe him as a legend, a mentor, a leader par excellence and a rare gem. He is a blessing to this profession, a pacesetter and success personified. One outstanding quality I admire about him is his humility and piety. I consider it a blessing to know him in person and I believe that it’s his greatness that led to the birth of the Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi Essay and Debate Competition which started last year in his honour.
This competition is held annually and involves all pharmacy schools. This year, it was hosted for the second time by UNIBEN and was won by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. This automatically makes them host of the next edition. Even as this competition serve as a honorary function it also serve as a means for pharmacy students all over the country to brainstorm on various issues and strengthen our unity. So we are more than grateful to Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi for this opportunity.