Enugu State Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has led stakeholders in the health care industry, including President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. (Alh) Ahmed Yakasai, to call on community pharmacists in the country to remain committed to quality health care delivery in the country.
The governor made the call while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 35th Annual National Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), tagged “Coal City 2016” and held at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu, Enugu State recently.
Ugwuanyi, who was the guest of honour at the event, said he was delighted to host community pharmacists across the country for the first time in the state, adding that he was ready to work with the ACPN in improving the health care delivery system in the state.
Acknowledging the vital role of community pharmacists, especially being the closest health care professionals to the people, the governor said this should spur them to be more dedicated and passionate about their chosen profession.
He further noted that the conference came at a time that the state government was intensifying efforts to rid the state of counterfeit medicines and improve the standard of health care delivery.
“As a government, we have indeed previously expressed our determination to transform Enugu State into a choice destination of medical treatment in Nigeria. And in pursuit of this vision, we have, among other things, commenced the construction of three new specialist hospitals to be located in the three senatorial zones of the state, while intensifying efforts towards the completion and commissioning of an ultra-modern diagnostic centre. We are also ensuring the continuous upgrading and strengthening of existing health facilities and institutions in the state,” he disclosed.
In his speech at the conference, PSN President, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, who noted that he was impressed with the level of organisation of the conference by the ACPN, said the association had indeed made a number of giant strides in recent years.
Extolling the crucial roles community pharmacists play in every society, Yakasai enjoined them to avail themselves of capacity development programmes in order to enhance their relevance as primary health care providers.
“Pharmacists are the third largest health professionals but community pharmacy is the gateway to health for the majority of care seekers all over the world,” he said.
Assuring ACPN of maximum support from the PSN and other relevant stakeholders, Yakasai said: “To meet the ever-changing needs of the public, the PSN is ready to continue to partner with ACPN and regulatory authorities like the PCN, NAFDAC and others to strengthen pharmacy practice, especially in the community. We are seeking the support of our colleagues to review the pharmacy laws to enable the PCN perform its regulatory function effectively by eradicating charlatans and illegal drug traders.
“We are liaising with the PCN to establish the satellite pharmacy concept with appropriate legal framework to deepen and widen the reach of community pharmacy in the under-served areas. Arrangement is also being worked out to provide four million dollar intervention fund that would be disbursed to aspiring and enterprising pharmacists, young and old, who are intending to establish and operate their own pharmacy.”
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who was represented by Dr Christopher Amah, chief medical director (CMD), University of Enugu Teaching Hospital, said the theme of the conference, “Manpower Development in Community Pharmacy Practice – Adopting Global Best Practices”, was apt, considering the challenge facing the health care sector and the fact that it was coming at a time the country was making efforts to improve the sector.
“I want to assure you of my support towards any policy that you reach at this conference that will favour pharmacy profession in the country, and to also tell you that the ministry of health is ready to work with you and ensure that the environment is more conducive for the practitioners to operate,” Adewole said.
In his own contribution, registrar of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharm. N.A.E Mohammed, who equally commended the theme of the conference, assured that the PCN was working round the clock to ensure that the various challenges confronting the ACPN would soon come to an end.
“We are here to inform the association that there is never a cloud that the sun cannot shine on; therefore, the ACPN and the pharmacy profession shall definitely shine, no matter the challenges. We also wish to let you know that the drive towards the National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) is on course and that we have stepped up our game regarding task force activities in all the states of the federation in order to sanitise the drug environment,” Mohammed stated.
Also speaking at the event, chairman of the occasion, Pharm. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okoye, managing director, Juhel Nigeria Limited, noted that the conference was strategic as it came at a time the state government was recording great achievements in restructuring health care infrastructures in the state, adding that the presence of community pharmacists from all states of the federation would further encourage good pharmaceutical practice in the state.
Speaking earlier, National Chairman of ACPN, Dr Albert Kelong Alkali said that the theme of the conference, which had received commendation from all the stakeholders at the conference, was meticulously chosen to educate community pharmacists nationwide on the current best practices globally.
He noted that the conference offered good opportunity for community pharmacists who had been working since the beginning of the year to unwind and learn.
The highlights of the event were the unveiling of the redesigned green cross emblem for community pharmacists, and the presentation of the “Distinguished Public Service Award” to the wife of the governor, Mrs Monica Ugwuanyi, who is the founder of Ugo Touch of Life Foundation (U-TOLF), a pet project aimed at assisting people battling with ailments such as cervical cancer, hypertension, eye problem, type 2 diabetes, heart failure, among others.
The conference had in attendance several other personages from the health care sector and other walks of life, including Hon. Dennis Oguerinwa Amadi, member representing Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency of Enugu State; Dr Samuel Ngwu, Hon. Commissioner for Health, Enugu State; His Royal Highness, Igwe Dr. Julius N. Nnaji, Igwe of Nike, Enugu State; and Pharm. Layi Gobir, managing director, Smart Mark Limited, Lagos and keynote speaker.
Others were Rt. Rev. Dr Emmanuel Chukwuma, Anglican Bishop of Enugu Diocese; Pharm. Azubike Okwor, former president, PSN; Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, former national chairman, ACPN; Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, immediate past president, PSN; and Pharm. (Alh.) Olufemi Ismail Adebayo, immediate past national chairman, ACPN.