Press Briefing by the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Ahmed I. Yakasai on the 90th Annual National Conference of the PSN

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Press briefing by the president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Ahmed I. Yakasai, FPSN, FNAPHARM, FNIM, on the 90th annual national conference of the PSN held at Pharmacy house, Anthony-village, Lagos on Wednesday, October 25, 2017.

Distinguished members of the National Executive Council, Respected Gentlemen of the Press, It is my great pleasure and delight to welcome you to this annual pre-conference briefing of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria which also officially kick-starts endeavours relating to our forthcoming National Conference. As usual this will afford us an opportunity to comment on some topical and contemporary matters in the Pharmaceutical Sector specifically and health industry generally.

For an impactful session, this address will focus on:

(1)    The 90th Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in Umuahia, Abia State from 6th-11th Nov, 2017

(2)    Stopping the scourge of drug abuse in Nigeria

(3)    The giant strides of PSN in the last 365 days

(4)    REDRESSING THE CHALLENGES OF A DYSFUNTIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM

(1)    THE 90TH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF NIGERIA IN UMUAHIA, ABIA STATE FROM 6TH-11TH NOV, 2017.

The Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria is the grandest event in our calendar. It is always an opportunity to showcase the organizational capacity of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria widely perceived as one of the oldest and best organised professional bodies in Nigeria.

This conference has as its theme “Medicines Availability and National Security” with the following Sub-themes:-

  1. Medicine Availability and National Security: Regulators’ Perspective

(NAFDAC, PCN, Custom, NDLEA and Ministry of Trade and Investment)

  1. Medicine Availability and National Security: Social Enterprise Perspective.
  2. Medicine Availability and National Security: Business Perspective, to be led by Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, FPSN.
  3. Other topics will revolve around the perspectives of the technical groups on the slogan of the conference: New Knowledge, New Practice.
  4. a) Imparting Knowledge for Global best Practice
  5. b) Critical Care Medicines: The need for specialization
  6. c) Best Practices in Community Pharmacy: Know it, Do it
  7. d) Enhancing Medicine Security Through Local Production

To enrich the plenary session, Prof Isa Hussain Marte, FPSN, NAPharm, of University of Maiduguri and Professor of Cancer Pharmacology will talk on ‘Nigerian Medicinal Plants: Sources of Anticancer Agents’

Gentlemen of the Press, the Speaker House of Representative, His Excellency, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, CON, is expected to declare the conference open as a Special Guest of Honour, while the Governor of Abia State, His Excellency, Dr.  Okezie Ikpeazu is the Chief Host, Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State is the Chairman, Senator, Mao Ohuabunwa, Chairman Senate Committee on Health Institutions, Chairman, Closing Banquet, and Senator, Lanre Tejuosho, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, and the Honourable Minister for Health Prof. Isaac Adewole, FAS will be Guests of Honour. The Keynote Address Speaker is Dr. Andrew S. Nevin of PwC, while His Eminence, Eze (Dr) Eberechi Dick,  Eze Udo 1 of Mgboko Ngwa Amaise, the Chairman of the Traditional Rulers is the Royal Father of the Day. As part of the activities marking the conference, a robust medical outreach will be organized to bring quality healthcare for free to a community in Abia state two days to the conference to reiterate our commitment to the well-being of our people.

Medicine availability contributes immensely to National security. In this light, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria has been a strong advocate for local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and the need for government to create a friendly environment for the pharmaceutical sector in Nigeria.

This international conference will therefore exploit avenues for this much sought after truism as it concerns the Pharmaceutical Sector of the economy and the security of our nation.

It is a peculiar gathering of over 5000 pharmacists and other scientists nationwide as well as the diaspora(particularly members of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas- NAPPSA) and the conference will attract over two hundred and fifty (250) pharmaceutical manufacturers, importers and other potential investors, so you can only expect a formidable positive force to emerge pharmaceutically speaking after November 11, 2017.

Our traditional programme including MCPDs, Scientific Poster Sessions, Panel Discussions, Seminars, Town Hall meeting, Annual General Meeting(AGM), Excursions Social Nite and Banquet will feature with improved output.

Another dimension to this year’s conference will be the decoration of the 2st set of Honourary members of the PSN (Honorary Pharmacists) and Awards of Friend of Pharmacy.

Gentlemen of the press, we shall also continue to promote our relationship with the distinguished 4th Estate of the realm through the Ben Ukwuoma Memorial Award instituted two years ago.

(2)    STOPPING THE SCOURGE OF DRUG ABUSE IN NIGERIA

On October 10, 2017, I led a powerful team to visit His Excellency Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON, Senate President to call the attention of the National Assembly to menace of drug abuse especially among the youths in the country. The issue of drug abuse and misuse is now taking unprecedented level in the country. The uses of cough syrup with codeine, tramadol, rohypnol, and others have experienced an exponential increase.  It is a maxim that the problem is non-respecter of ethnicity, tribe, religion, sex, language, social status, political affiliations. The effect of drug-abuse is non-respecter of class; we are all affected- Young and old, Rural and Urban, poor and Rich, educated and otherwise.

I am so delighted that the Senate has taken this issue seriously and has treated it as a national issue of prime importance and as requested by the senate, we are prepare a comprehensive report and position paper on the menace and the way forward for the establishment of National Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Centre. Let me assure you that PSN will continue to work will all relevant stakeholders to make sure that drug abuse and misuse in Nigeria is reduced to the minimum level. Let me call on the press to see this issue of drug abuse, a national catastrophe and use their power to enlighten our people on the dire consequences of drug abuse and misuse. Together we can stop his menace.

(3)    THE GIANT STRIDES OF PSN IN THE LAST 365 DAYS

In the last 365 days, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria has moved from strength to strength by contributing its quota to the advancement of the healthcare profession in particular and the wellbeing and happiness of Nigerians in general.

SYMPOSIUM ON INTERPRROFESSIONALISM AMONG THE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

The Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy and PSN organized the first inter-professional symposium at the University of Lagos and all professionals in the healthcare sector agreed to work together in harmony and mutual respect for the good of the patients.

PSN FOUNDATION

On October 17, 2017, PSN launched its Foundation at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja and inaugurated PSN Foundation board of Trustee in a grand style event, making PSN the first professional body in Nigeria to achieve this remarkable feat. Prior to this, PSN donated drugs worth 50 million Naira to IDP camps in the North east to show her commitment to the wellbeing of the vulnerable and to empower lives. This is with the aim of generally supporting research, healthcare and humanitarian services in the country.

PSN MONUMENT AT NIPRD HEADQUARTERS

On October 18, 2017 PSN unveiled a monument at the headquarters of National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Idu, Abuja to reiterate its commitment to the advancement of the institute and to research and development in Nigeria. It is a fact of life that PSN is the brain behind the establishment of the institute over 3 decades ago, after a well thought position paper submitted to the FGN by PSN President Late Bayo Ogunyemi and Secretary, Deji Osinoiki in 1987.

PSN MEDICINE INFORMATION CENTRE

On October 25, 2017, PSN officially launched its Medicine Information Centre in collaboration with UK Medicine Information (UKMI) Centre and Monitor Healthcare to provide accurate and up-to-date information to healthcare providers and the general public. PSN MIC was proudly supported by Fidson Healthacre Ltd and Chi Pharmaceutical Limited.

There are other achievements we have recorded in the last one year in service to humanity and to our noble profession. We believe posterity will be in the best position to judge us well for our sacrifices and commitment to make sure that our noble society remains first among equals and a trailblazer.

  1. REDRESSING THE CHALLENGES OF A DYSFUNCTIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM

Nigeria continues to contend with a plethora of challenges not necessarily created or caused by this incumbent administration. Amongst numerous challenges the following stand out:-

1.​      Poor funding

2.​      Delayed and unlawful appointments in regulatory agencies

3.​      Poor composition structures in the health sector including lopsided appointments in Federal Health Institutions.

  1. ​Poor attitude as well as culture with regards to research and development.

If we restrict ourselves to the highlighted, you will agree that the inherent tendency of health tourism (because the pharmaceutical component is very significant is predicated on poor funding. Recently over 95% of the health workforce was on an avoidable strike action traceable to challenges in funding. Low wages and obsolete equipment combine to make our health system largely unproductive. Universal Health Coverage is almost impossible because of a deficiently administered Social Health Insurance agenda. Delays in appointments which are also sometimes unlawful in sensitive regulatory agencies like NAFDAC, PCN and others ultimately take a toll on the quality of care consumers of health receive from care-givers. An agency like NAFDAC which normally should enhance a high safety margin in the range of available regulated products cannot dwell on ad-hoc structures in perpetuity. It can be even more tragic when government conducts unlawful appointments like we have witnessed in previous dispensations at NAFDAC, PCN, Nursing and Midwifery Council and Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria.

You are familiar with the position of stakeholders in health with reference to the composition of the board of management of Federal Health Institutions which is unduly skewed against majority of stakeholders. Our apathy for research and development is tragic because it compels a largely anonymous status on our health system. If we research into peculiar disease states or produce local remedies to solve our own unique problems with made in Nigeria medicines, we shall undoubtedly grow the pharmaceutical sector and the health system.

Again, the patient care era has encouraged research to develop new medicines. This came with the consequences of Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and so necessitated review and monitoring of patients. It is on record that this challenge gave birth to Clinical Pharmacy.

In view of the dynamism of the sciences, research, in the area of biotechnology and gene therapy is now being conducted. The advanced technology in pharmaceuticals in processes like recombinant DNA technology has given rise to new therapies for cancer, anemia and hepatitis.

The natural consequence of the progress in our profession compels specialization in pharmacy practice. Today specialization which compels expertise in a chosen area has become a global reality in different areas of Pharmacy practice including hospital, industry, community, public health, regulation and control etc.

It is logical to posit that after specialization in a chosen area, a need arises to recognize the peculiar expertise of the specialist through an appointment which comes with adequate remuneration.

In the light of this reality, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists defines a Consultant Pharmacist as “a Pharmacist who is paid to provide expert advice on the use of medications by individuals or within institutions, or on the provision of Pharmacy services to institutions.

The reality of this definition therefore implies that Consultant Pharmacists:

*        Must have requisite expert knowledge

*        Must be appointed

*        Are applicable to different spheres of pharmacy practice

*        Must go through a structured selection process.

*        Consultant Pharmacist must enjoy benefit of adequate remuneration.

At a time of unprecedented systemic failure in the health system a critical need arises to structure the position of Consultant Pharmacists around four (4) major functions which are:

  • Expert Practice
  • Research, Evaluation and Service Development
  • Education, Mentoring and Overview of Practice
  • Professional Leadership

In our collective quest for a productive health sector, I am still appealing and calling on the Federal Government to immediately activate the Consultancy Pharmacist philosophy in the public health now in our country.

The way forward is to redress the highlighted challenges. The pharmaceutical sector is an often neglected goldmine because we have requisite expertise in this our professional space.

In the USA, the pharmaceutical sector contributes 1% of GDP, which is raised to between 2.5% – 5% in China and India.

We advocate for petrochemical plant which will engender industrial revolution. We can meet over 90% of local needs this way and export to other African countries (African hub for pharmaceuticals). It will be my joy to see this actualized in my lifetime for the good of Nigeria

CONCLUSION           

I want to use this opportunity to thank the Central Planning Committee (CPC) and Local Organising Committee headed by Pharm. Lolu Ojo and Pharm. Albert Opara respectively for excellent planning and preparations of our 90th Annual Conference which from all indications is already a success.

I want to thank you gentlemen of the press for your traditional support to the PSN in its pursuit of sound ideals for healthcare in Nigeria and the well-being of Nigerians. The road to success is always under construction and we shall continue to solicit more of your invaluable support in the years ahead.

God bless you pharmaceutically.

I thank you all.

Pharm. AHMED I. YAKASAI, FPSN, FNAPharm, FNIM

PRESIDENT, PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF NIGERIA (PSN)

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