Dr Kingsley Chiedu Amibor, is the national vice chairman, Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), and a Clinical Pharmacist with the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Asaba, where he currently occupies the position of Assistant Director of Pharmaceutical Services (ADPS). He is also a Consultant Pharmacist and a Fellow of the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacists (FPCPharm). A major aspirant for the position of the AHAPN national chairman in the forthcoming election, scheduled to hold at the 20th Annual National Scientific Conference of AHAPN, from 30 July to 3 August 2018, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. In this exclusive chat with pharmanewsonline, Dr Aminor reveals his vision to rebrand and reposition hospital and administrative practice, through his 8-Point Agenda. Excerpts below:
Tell us about your work experience in the hospital, and what informed your involvement in organised pharmacy activities?
I joined the hospital sector in January 2001, specifically the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) from the industrial sector. Being a core parastatal, I have remained with the centre since 2001. I rose through the ranks at the centre to become an Assistant Director of Pharmaceutical Services (ADPS). Inside the hospital, I have worked in various sections and headed such units as Accident and Emergency (A&E) Pharmacy, Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O &G) Pharmacy, Drug Information Centre, Inpatient Pharmacy among others.
My involvement in NAHAP (now AHAPN) began as the Chairman of the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba Chapter in 2006, from where I went to serve the Delta State Branch in 2008, first as vice chairman, and later as chairman in 2011. I was also assistant general secretary of the Delta State Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) from 2011 to 2013. In 2015, I was elected the national vice chairman of AHAPN, a position I occupy till today by the grace of God. I am the pioneer Editor-in-Chief of the health magazine of the Association known as “The Hospital Pharmacist.” The maiden edition of the Magazine was launched at the 19th Annual National Conference of AHAPN in Lagos 2017. Hopefully, the 2nd Edition will be launched at this year’s conference in Port Harcourt. My love for the profession and the desire to serve humanity, prompted me into holding all these positions.
As a major aspirant of the position of the AHAPN national chairman, what is your goal for vying for this post?
Like I did say, I rose through the ranks in AHAPN, rising from being a chapter chairman to being the incumbent national vice chairman. I have been a member of AHAPN Council for 7 uninterrupted years and member of the National Executive Committee for the past three years. These positions have afforded me the opportunity of having firsthand knowledge of the challenges confronting hospital and administrative pharmacy practice in Nigeria (and I can assure you that they are myriads). As the saying goes, knowledge is power; so having got a good knowledge of these challenges, effectively puts me and my team in a better position to tackle and overcome them by the grace of God, for the ultimate good and progress of the pharmacy profession.
Specifically, what major changes would you effect in hospital and administrative practice if you emerge the national chairman of AHAPN?
I did mention the fact that there are challenges confronting hospital pharmacy practice.
➢ One of such challenges is what I may call lack of brand identity. For instance, medical doctors are synonymous with medical care, nurses with nursing care, but what do people identify hospital pharmacists with? Most times they refer to us as dispensers or chemists at best. So if given the opportunity to become national chairman of AHAPN, one of my first assignments will be to embark on corporate rebranding. By this, I mean that we will adopt pharmaceutical care as our philosophy of practice. In other words, we will offer care as our brand of care, and graduate from the age old “Dispenser Status” that we have been identified with over the years. God willing, we will do away with “window dispensing” permanently as the rest of the world has done, including African countries. There will be need to restructure existing pharmacy departments in various hospitals to create confidential chambers for patient counseling.
How will this be feasible? With my training as a clinical pharmacist, I know this is very feasible, but might take some time to implement fully. We will embark on aggressive and extensive advocacy to the relevant ministry, management of tertiary hospitals such as chief medical directors of teaching hospitals and medical directors of federal medical centers across the country and gradually move to secondary care hospitals. We will also embark on in-house advocacy to our colleagues and sensitize them on the need to key into our intended pharmaceutical care reforms. Since pharmaceutical care has become the norm all over the world, we will strive to offer the benefits of such care to the Nigerian people, the ultimate benefit being improvement in and maintenance of the quality of life.
➢ As part of the corporate rebranding, we will embark on health education and health promotion activities (which is part of our training as clinical pharmacists) at both national and state levels, to shore up the image of the hospital pharmacist whom the public for a long time saw as the man behind the window that dishes out drugs to patients (though that mentality is gradually changing). This we will do in collaboration with the media.
Nigerians need to know that pharmacists are a body of professionals with diverse knowledge and training to impact positively on health care delivery. As core care givers, we are in a position to render service in such a way as to improve patient outcomes positively.
➢ Another item on my agenda is an improvement in the welfare of our members, and we intend to give the average hospital and administrative pharmacist a sense of belonging and to carry them along in all we do.
➢ We will work with the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and other relevant bodies to ensure release of the circular on consultancy for pharmacists in the country. Good thing that some states are already giving recognition to consultant pharmacists, we expect more to join in the near future, with the federal government taking the lead.
➢ Another area of focus will be to encourage specialization in core areas of pharmacy among our members. The rest of the world has moved on in this regard and pharmacists cannot afford to lag behind. Gone are the days when you will see a medical doctor or nurse or medical laboratory scientist carrying out his entire professional duties all by himself or herself. There is a popular saying about a jack of all trades been master of none. If we can have a respiratory physician or dialysis nurse or chemical pathology medical laboratory scientist, nothing says we should not equally have a psychiatric care pharmacist or renal care pharmacist and so on. The healthcare sector is very dynamic and all professionals practicing therein are now specializing and equipping themselves with skills and competencies to render optimal patient care.
As a matter of fact, I have put together what I call an 8-Point-Agenda on the way forward for hospital and administrative pharmacy practice in Nigeria. But I may not be able for lack of time to exhaust all of them in this interview.
For some time now, hospital pharmacists have been complaining about being marginalised by the doctors. What would you do to rectify this if you emerge the national chairman of AHAPN?
Good question. Of a truth, pharmacists are being marginalised in Nigeria. You find pharmacists spend 5 or 6 years in pharmacy school (just like their medical colleagues) depending on whether Bachelor of Pharmacy or Doctor of Pharmacy programme, and upon graduation, you find out that the disparity in pay is so much. For instance, a director of pharmacy in a tertiary hospital nwho has put in 35 years in the civil service goes home with less than five hundred thousand naira or thereabout monthly, whereas a medical consultant less than 12 years post qualification earns about a million naira monthly. In most hospitals, almost all committees and clinical units are headed by medical doctors only, including offices of Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), deputy CMAC, and so on.
You discover that a pharmacist with a Masters degree in Public Health (MPH) is not even appointed into the hospitals ethics committee, which is always dominated by medical doctors, some with just first degree (MBBS). Patient care all over the world is a collaborative process involving the medical doctor, pharmacist, nurse and other healthcare professionals with the patient at the centre. So if I get elected as national chairman, we will pursue a path of dialogue to make the medical doctors realise that healthcare delivery is teamwork and they must carry other professionals along in the overall interest of the patient. We will do everything possible within a legal framework to improve on the existing relationship between medical doctors and pharmacists.
Aside all these you have mentioned, what tangible offer do you have for all hospital and administrative pharmacists in Nigeria?
I like to begin by correcting an impression; that is the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) as the name goes, comprises not just hospital based pharmacists, but those in administrative positions like (NAFDAC and others) and regulatory as well (including ministry of health). So you see we are talking about a wide body of pharmacists.
One thing we promise all pharmacists is that God willing, we will give them a sense of belonging. We will cause the voice of the pharmacist to be heard. We will strive to achieve job satisfaction for all pharmacists. The other issues we will tackle are enumerated in the 8 Point Agenda already mentioned. My campaign slogan is “Its time to rebrand, reposition and repossess Hospital and Administrative Pharmacy Practice” and I mean every word of that, God helping us. This is what I promise all pharmacists, again God willing.
What is your vision for AHAPN in the next 5 years?
My vision for AHAPN in the next 5 years is that of a group of pharmacists who will render quality and optimal care services to patients in collaboration with other healthcare givers, in a conducive practice environment, with a sense of fulfillment and guaranteed job satisfaction.