Community Pharmacists, Critical in Achieving Universal Health Coverage, Stakeholders Insist

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– As ACPN holds 40th Annual National Conference in Abeokuta

Dr UNO Uwaga, former president, PSN (right), presenting an Award plaque to Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, president, NAPharm, in the company of Dr Samuel Adekola, immediate past national chairman, ACPN, during the opening ceremony of “Gateway 

Eminent Nigerians and stakeholders from the pharmaceutical industry, including Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, chairman, Juli Pharmacy and president, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm); Dr Dere Awosika, chairman, Access Bank; Dr NAE Mohammed, registrar, PCN; Pharm. (Mrs) Olubukola Ajayi, director, Food and Drugs, Federal Ministry of Health; Mallam Farouk Salim, director general, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and Oba (Dr) Hammed Adekunle Oyelude, the Olowu of Kuta, Osun State, have tasked the Federal Government on the inclusion of community pharmacists into its healthcare delivery system, in its quest to attain Universal Health Coverage for the country.

The charge was given at the opening ceremony of the 40th Annual National Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), tagged “Gateway 2021” and held at the Conference Hotel, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Speaking on the vital role of community pharmacists, especially being the closest healthcare professionals to the people, the chairman of the opening ceremony, Awosika, who was represented by Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi, said the theme of the conference, “Abuja Declaration: Equipping Community Pharmacists For Universal Health Coverage,” was apt, saying the country has an array of highly trained and competent community pharmacists within communities but has not made good use of them.

A cross-section of participants during the opening ceremony at the Gateway 2021.

She noted that community pharmacists had so much to do to ensure that the pharmaceutical needs of the nation’s teeming populace are met, adding that Pharmacy remains the number one profession in Nigeria when it comes to healthcare, hence the need for practitioners to continuously update themselves and move with the tides.

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In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, stressed the need for community pharmacists to rejig their innovations, skills, ideas, and knowledge to move the profession to the next level in the bid for Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

“The 40th anniversary you are celebrating must be made to count as the beginning of a new phase of community pharmacy practice in Nigeria. Obviously, the association is fully aware of its role as it’s indicated in the choice of the theme of this conference and the effort being put in place for repositioning community pharmacies to provide basic public healthcare services, such as pharmacy-based vaccination programme, basic life support, and others”, he stated

Speaking further, the minister who was represented by Pharm. (Mrs) Ajayi, stressed the need for community pharmacists to be involved in public health intervention programmes.

For Mallam Salim, all community pharmacists should walk with their heads high as the profession has brought more positive impacts to the healthcare profession more than any other.

According to him, pharmacists are competent professionals as they operate with standard. “When talking about standard, it starts and ends with the pharmacists as they are one set of professionals who live and survive by the standard. So for us at SON, we believe that pharmacy practice and the practitioners should be engaged more as they are seriously underutilised”.

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In his own contribution, Dr 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, adding that the COVID-19 has further exposed the importance of the profession to the healthcare sector.

The PCN registrar noted that the core competencies of community pharmacists need to be improved to meet the challenges that this role will bring in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that lack of recognition and involvement of community pharmacists is one of the factors militating against the Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.

Earlier in his address, the National Chairman, ACPN, Dr Samuel Adekola noted that the impact and disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are humongous both in terms of lives lost, morbidity caused and economic paralyzes, adding that it has been a very challenging year for the association as well as the nation.

Adekola also noted that the role of community pharmacists in achieving Universal Health Coverage cannot be overemphasized, adding that Nigeria’s approach to primary healthcare is missing an essential ingredient without the recognition and involvement of community pharmacists.

“Community pharmacists are the health professionals most accessible to the public and they are a cornerstone of primary healthcare as their role is expanding globally. The population should benefit from universal and appropriate access to community pharmacies including the full potential of community pharmacies.”

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The high point of the event was the presentation of awards of excellence and other categories of awards to sixteen personalities, including Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi, with Doyen of Pharmacy Award; Mr Babajide Sanwoolu, Gov of Lagos State with Audacious Transformation Leadership Award; Prof. Moji Adeyeye, director general, NAFDAC, with Excellent Leadership Award; Dr Stella Okoli, group managing director, Emzor Pharmaceuticals Limited, with Platinum Philanthropy Award; Dr Mohammed, registrar, PCN, with an Excellent Leadership Award.

Also Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, former president, PSN, with The Most Reference Pharmacy Leadership Award; Mr Santosh Kumar, managing director, WWCVL, with Platinum Philanthropy Award; Prof. Lere Bale, chief executive, Business School Netherland, with Phenomenal Resourceful Leadership Award; Oba (Dr) Hammed Adekunle Oyelude, Olowu of Kuta, with Excellent Leadership Award; Prof. Hope Oghenerukevbe Eghagha, with Real Estate Meritorious Award; Hon. (Alh) Aminu Suleiman, director-general, Tinubu Support Organisation, with an Excellent Leadership Award.

Others were Hon. Abdul-Akeem Ayodeji Amodu, special adviser to the Lagos State Gov, with Transparency and Motivation Award; Mr Dare Aragbaiye, SSA, Special Duties and Union Matters to the Ondo State Governor, Excellent Leadership and Friend of Pharmacy Award; Prince Tony Abiodun Adedapo Adenubi, with Real Estate Meritorious Award, while the duo of Chief Gabriel Akinmade Taylor, former Lisa of Ile-Oluji, Ondo State, and Prince C.O Nebe, former managing director, Pharmatex Limited, were awarded Posthumous Outstanding Industrialist Award and Posthumous Living Avatar Award respectively.

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