- As Lagos ACPN holds continuing education conference
The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Lagos State Chapter, has called on the Federal and State Governments to invest more in the security and welfare of health professionals, saying such investments will go a long way in addressing the brain drain experienced across different sectors of the economy, especially as it relates to the mass exodus of pharmacists from the shores of the country.
Speaking during the 2023 Community Pharmacists Educational Conference, held at the Citadel Conference & Events Centre, Oregun, Lagos, Chairman of the association, Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator, said that the brain drain has affected their profession to a large extent, as younger pharmacists are not interested in staying back due to lack of adequate security and basic welfare.
“We are currently experiencing a shortage of younger pharmacists to employ. Those trained with the view of supporting our operations are living for greener pastures. It’s tough to blame them because all our appeals to the government are not yielding positive responses. This brain drain, by implication, will continue to worsen the country’s health indices.”
Ekhator insisted that if the government can meet its own constitutional role of providing security and basic welfare, a lot of Nigerians who are migrating will definitely stay back and contribute to the country’s development.
He commended Nigerians who are seriously contributing to the nation’s building despite all the challenges: “A lot of pharmacists are putting measures in place to thrive, but the more they do so, the more government introduces different policies to make things difficult. For instance, the drama surrounding the naira redesign and the implication of it on the economy is massive.”
The number one community pharmacist in the state further admonished the members of ACPN to continue to leverage the benefits of e-commerce, and as primary healthcare service providers, they should continue to transform the healthcare industry and protect the lives of the public.
According to the ACPN boss, the Continuing Education Conference with the theme: “Overcoming Brain-Drain Challenges In Community Pharmacy” was designed to promote professional skills, business strategy skills, and practice skills of community pharmacists, saying it would help community pharmacists to better understand current economic realities, move with the trend, and be better equipped for the coming year.
He added that the motive for starting the programme was to constantly update members on current changes in the profession and keep them updated, adding that yearning for a more robust engagement and more impactful result necessitated the need to change it to a two-day event.
The Registrar, Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, Pharm. Babashehu Ahmed said that the Pharmacy profession has experienced massive loss of human resources in the last few years due to brain drain.
The registrar, who was represented by Dr Ukamaka Okafor, director, PCN, noted that a total of 1,255 letters of good standing were issued to pharmacists who travelled out of the country in 2021 and 2022 only, adding that this figure does not include those who have traveled but are yet to apply for letters of good standing.”
The keynote speaker at the 2-day conference, Chief Operating Officer, Pan-Atlantic University, Dr Peter Bamkole, urged ACPN members to encourage students from an early stage to develop an interest in studying Pharmacy.
“I agree that the country is experiencing brain drain across different sectors, but I believe we can do our best by getting more people to take science-related courses.
“As an association, we need to encourage more people to study science-related courses, especially Pharmacy, by enlightening them at the early stages of JSS 1 and JSS2.”
Bamkole, who was represented by the Director and Head of Gender at The Enterprise Development Centre, Pan-Atlantic University, Mrs Nneka Okekearu, warned those that want to migrate for greener pastures to do their homework very well before doing so.
“Do not relocate with your family, don’t resign from your job, take leave of absence and find a way to get an internship in a company abroad, work there for two to three months and see their way of life.
“There are certain things you enjoy here that are unavailable aboard. After weighing the two options, you can now decide.”
She urged the Nigerian government to look at the current school curriculum and make it reflect the new trends and realities of today’s world.
“Our curriculum needs to be modified to reflect the current trend; we need to have things like leadership, personal management, financial literacy, and value acreation so that by the time a pharmacist is graduating, he or she is not just coming out as a pharmacist, but they are coming out with a more holistic view of the world.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Event, Pharm. Iyke Ugwu, managing director, Pharmacare Support Services, noted that the choice of the theme for the programme was very much in consonance with the reality on the ground for Pharmacy, adding that the negative effect of brain drain on the Pharmacy profession outweighs its positive effect.
The high point of the event was the presentation of commendation plaques to all the past chairmen of the association from 1990 under the leadership of Pharm. Jimi Agbaje, to 2021 under Pharm. Olabanji Obideyi.
Other dignitaries at the event include Pharm. Joel Adagadzu, chairman, PSN-BOF, who was represented by Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Morohundiya, vice-chairman, PSN-BOF; Pharm. (Dr) Afusat Adesina, chairman, ALPs, Lagos State; Pharm. Deji Osinoiki, chairman, Board of Trustees, ACPN; Pharm. Ike Onyechi, chief executive officer, Alpha Pharmacy Limited; Pharm. (Mrs) Biola Paul-Ozieh, chairman, HCPAN, Lagos; Pharm. Babayemi Oyekunle, chairman, PSN, Lagos State; Dr Arinola Joda, chairman, NAPA, Lagos State; Pharm. Ernest Okafor, chairman, PWDAN; Pharm. Olabanji Obideyi, immediate past chairman, Lagos ACPN; Pharm. Madehin Gafar Olanrewaju, national treasurer, PSN; Pharm. Tony Oyawole, among others.