Safe medicines to Nigerians can only be guaranteed when pharmacists in the country are available to provide the pharmaceutical care, as well as when patients and the general public patronise only registered pharmacies, where experts are available to provide safe medicines and pharmaceutical care.
This was disclosed by Pharm. (Alh.) Ahmed I. Yakassai, managing director, Pharmaplus Nigeria Limited, Kano and former commissioner of commerce, industry, cooperative and tourism, land and physical planning, Kano State, at the 32nd Annual National Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN). The event tagged “Land of Paradise 2013”, was held at the prestigious Cultural Centre, Calabar, Cross River State between 3rd to 7th of June, 2013.
The conference, which had in attendance community pharmacists in their hundreds from across the nation, had Pharm. (Dr.) Mrs. Dere Awosika, former permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, as the chairman, first plenary session. It also had in attendance several eminent guests, such as Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Pharm. Azuibike Okwor, immediate past president, PSN; Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, former chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN); Pharm. (Dr) Lolu Ojo, chairman, Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (AIPN); Pharm. (Dr) Gloria Abumere, acting registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN); Pharm. (Alh.) Adebayo Ismail Olufemi, national chairman, ACPN; Pharm. (Dr.) Ejiro Foyibo, immediate past chairman, ACPN; Pharm. Alkali Albert Kelong, national vice-chairman, ACPN; Pharm. (Engr.) Olatunji Koolchap, national secretary, ACPN, among others.
Speaking further, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, who was the keynote speaker at the event, said he was delighted with the choice of the main theme for the conference, which was: “Safe Medicine for Nigerians – Community Pharmacists’ Perspectives”.
According to him, safe medicines, as defined by World Health Organization (WHO) standard, are those that satisfy the priority and health care needs of the population, adding that they are selected with due regard to public health relevance, evidence on efficacy and safety and comparative cost- effectiveness.
“Safe medicines are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems, at all times, in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality and adequate information, and at a price the individual and the community can afford. In other words, the vision of WHO is that people everywhere have access to the safe medicines and health products they need, that the medicines and health products are safe, effective and of assured quality, and that medicines are prescribed and used rationally.”
He explained that Nigerians have a right to safe, qualitative and efficacious medicines, adding that access to safe medicines is part of the human right to health. He, however, lamented that this is not the case in Nigeria, as the country is faced withan uncoordinated drug distribution system, which is not in line with the good drug supply management that the national drug policy stipulates.
He also explained that it has been established that the uncoordinated drug distribution is the major reason why we still have some level of fake, adulterated and substandard drugs in circulation in the country, which is not in the interest of the health care delivery system.
Continuing, “The physical distribution of medicines from manufacturers to pharmacists in this country is chaotic. In order to ensure the availability of good quality, safe, efficacious and affordable drugs in the health care delivery system, the Federal Government developed national guidelines on drug distribution; and the main attraction of it is that drugs will no longer be sold in the open market. All the health care facilities, including private and public, will be guided by the guidelines in their drug procurement activities, in order to establish a well ordered drug distribution system for Nigeria.”
Speaking on the reasons drugs should be properly regulated, Yakasai noted that the use of ineffective, poor quality and unsafe medicines can result in therapeutic failure, resistance, exacerbation of diseases and sometimes death. He added that it would also undermine confidence in health systems, health professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.
He therefore advised that, in order to improve access to safe medicines in Nigeria, all stakeholders in the health care delivery system must play their respective roles in the manufacture, supply system management, prescription and use of drugs.
He added that safe medicines to Nigerians can only be guaranteed where pharmacists are available to provide the pharmaceutical care, while community practice must be ethical and should fall within the ambit of the law. He further said that, as stipulated in the PCN code of ethics, every pharmacy, should have a superintendent pharmacist in personal control of the premises.
While launching the Pharm. Ahmed I. Yakasai Community Service Award in Community Pharmacy Practice, with a price tag of N300,000 (three hundred thousand naira) annually for 10 (ten) years, with N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira) for the award and N50,000 (fifty thousand) for transportation fees to the awardee, Pharm. Yakasai urged all pharmacists to have the fear of God in carrying out their daily activities and to act with honesty and integrity.
In her goodwill message at the conference, Pharm. (Mrs.) Gloria Abumere, acting registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), explained that the important place and responsibility of the community pharmacists cannot be overemphasised, given the pivotal role they play in health care delivery services in the country. She said that medicines are very essential to life, whether or not the individual is well.
“Medicines are crucial to human existence; so, if not properly handled and advice and counselling are not properly given, strictly followed or adhered to, medicines can become very dangerous, if not lethal, when handled by the wrong people or in the wrong way. Lives have been terminated through the wrong use of drugs, while medical conditions can also be made worse through inappropriate use of medicines. And this is where the community pharmacist comes in.”
The acting registrar noted that the community pharmacist is one of the most trusted healthcare professionals, who provides, not only medicines, but also psychological support to the patients. She also added that community pharmacists are trusted community health advisers with requisite educational skills and competence to offer professional services, particularly in the area of dispensing, counselling, patients’ follow-ups, rational use of drugs and appropriate documentation of both medicines and patients.
“I am happy to inform this gathering that, in line with current international trends and demands, some pharmacists are to be trained as trainers towards training other community pharmacists on management of childhood illness, including malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia, towards the end of this week. We believe that, together, we can make pharmacy great and impactful.”
Earlier in his address, the national chairman, ACPN, Pharm. (Alh.) Adebayo Ismail Olufemi, said he was delighted with the main theme of the conference, “Safe Medicine for Nigerians – Community Pharmacists Perspectives”. This, he said, is appropriate for this period in the history of the country. He added that it is the responsibility of the community pharmacists, as custodians of medicine, to provide safe medicines to the public. He also declared that it is the fundamental human right of an average Nigerian to have access to safe medicines.
“A lot of events have happened in the last one year. I want to cast an optimistic look on issues we have been grappling with, as a profession; seeing them all as pharmacy practice passing through the refiner’s fire. Meanwhile, I am optimistic that, at the end of the day, the practice of pharmacy will evolve into an ideal one.”
Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), in his message, appreciated the recent collaboration between Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, the Clinton Foundation, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, and the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, which aimed at training community pharmacists in some selected states to tackle the menace of diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia, which are major clinical disease states that worsen the depressing indices on child and maternal healthcare in the country.
He also urged the community pharmacists across the nation to embrace the labelling software initiative, which redresses irrational drug use and medication errors. He added that the community pharmacist can truly showcase the difference in his practice from that of drug sellers in the manner drugs are dispensed and labelled for use. “Community pharmacists would have no choice, in the long run, than to adopt this initiative, as a regulatory tool in the not too long future.”
Meanwhile, another highlight of the event was the official unveiling of the new logo and mission, as well as vision statement, of the association, which was done by the chairman of the first plenary session, Pharm. (Dr.) Dere Awosika. The chairman, who was assisted by Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, president, PSN and Pharm. (Dr.) Gloria Abumere, PCN acting registrar, commended the association for the successful presentation of the new logo, and encouraged them to make sure its vision and mission statement are professionally adhered to.
While speaking on the unveiling of the new logo, both Akintayo and Abumere agreed that the new logo and vision, with the mission statement, followed due process before approval and were in line with the transformational agenda in the health care sector. They however urged the leadership of the association to strive to actualise the objectives of the vision and mission statement.