Dr. Leo C. Egbujiobi is a pharmacist and an interventional cardiologist, with specialisation in diagnosis and treatment of the disorders of the heart and the blood vessels. He is based in Beloit Wisconsin, USA. In this interview with Pharmanews, Egbujiobi who is set to take over in September as president of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA) speaks on NAPPSA’s beginnings and significance, as well as why he is championing collaborative health care delivery amongst the physicians, the pharmacists and the nurses. Excerpts:
What prompted your active involvement in NAPPSA and what is your assessment of the association’s activities so far?
My involvement with NAPPSA started from my pharmacy education in Boston. Nigerian friends I went to school in Boston with later moved to Florida to practice pharmacy. Our continued interaction led to my involvement with Nigerian Pharmacy Association in Tampa, Florida and participation in a yearly educational programme with this group. It was in one of such yearly events that Pharmacist Nnodum Iheme, a frequent sponsor of the event, floated the idea of a national pharmacy organisation in 2006. A massive campaign to gather men and women of high influence in the fields of clinical pharmacy, academia, regulatory and industry led to the formation of NAPPSA. We decided on the name, NAPPSA, because we did not want to limit the association’s membership to only pharmacists. We wanted to involve anybody with interest in Pharmacy, pharmaceutical science and health. And I think our greatest highlight at that time was when the late Prof. Dora Akunyili came to us in Houston in 2007. Nnodum, NAPPSA’s first president, did a great job piloting the affairs of NAPPSA at that time. He brought everybody together and put the association on a sound footing.
You are expected to take over as NAPPSA president next September, as the incoming president. What is your assessment of the association’s activities so far?
As an insider, I would say the association has done very well, in part due to a solid beginning. After Nnodum was Dr Funmi Ajayi, a superb woman with excellent governing skills, and now our current president, Dr. Nkere Ebube, a visionary leader with impeccable drive to excellence. He has extensive command and knowledge of the NAPPSA mission. It is therefore unfair to anybody to succeed him.
Right now, as a loyal president-elect of NAPPSA, my total support is for Nkere, our president. We have survived three consecutive successions and that speaks volume of the caliber of people that are involved in this association. It is even very more difficult this year because we are to change nine of the original 18 board members and the behavior of those nine people to go has further exemplified our true spirit of cooperation. I am humbled by the amount of passion and tenacity demonstrated in NAPPSA by these outgoing board members. All of them participate and continued to argue passionately on NAPPSA affairs and items that they would not be around to implement. What a true sign of dedication.
What are the objectives you have set for yourself as NAPPSA president? What should we look forward to during your presidency?
I think the most important thing is to stay the course. I believe leadership is about getting people together to go in the right direction which you have identified. We will continue to build on our membership, programme development, citizenship, and strengthening ties with other professional organisations. We will solidify our relationship with ANPA and NANA. These two organisations share with NAPPSA the concept of patient-centered approach, through collaboration, in healthcare delivery, a model that will revolutionise healthcare services in Nigeria. We will seek advice and collaboration with PCN and PSN in our quest to exchange knowledge and skills between our association and our counterpart professionals in Nigeria. I am gracious to PCN to agree to look into some obstacles that our pharmacists who plan to practice in Nigeria may face during their licensure process.
In Nigeria now, hypertension is becoming an epidemic. As a cardiologist, what should we be doing to tame this condition?
Hypertension diagnosis and treatment is one of the three basic things that will extend life of our citizens. The other two are tobacco cessation and access to clean water. These are global issues also and not akin to our society.
For high blood pressure, salt restriction, daily exercise and weight management are the initial basic treatments. Individuals afflicted with hypertension should receive proven medications to lower the blood pressure in addition to the preventive measures discussed. The deleterious effects of tobacco use, untreated hypertension and diabetes should be a public campaign. Those three conditions, tobacco use, hypertension and diabetes, are aggressive co-conspirators in development of stroke, heart attack and the loss of essential organs for our body (for example eye sight, limb loss).
Persons with high blood pressure should be appropriately diagnosed by licensed doctors who would give the above advice and offer appropriate medications that a pharmacist should review and dispense. The pharmacist would explain the use, the expected good and bad effects of the medication and potential good and bad interactions of this medication with other drugs.