(By Temitope Obayendo)
A professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, Pharm. Magaji Garba has frowned at the numerous challenges facing pharmacists in the academia, in the course of training greenhorns in the profession, stating that if these difficulties are not resolved, they might prevent the lecturers from giving their best to the students.
Prof. Garba, who is the dean, School of Pharmacy, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, spoke to Pharmanews in an exclusive interview recently.
According to him: “Chief among the challenges are poor remuneration; inadequate exposure, due to acute financial difficulties; inadequate facilities and substandard laboratories, coupled with inconducive environment for learning.”
He further condemned the situation, stating that if actions are not taken immediately by the government to remedy the predicament, by upgrading the facilities in the schools of pharmacy, as well as increasing the salary of the lecturers, pharmacy education in Nigeria may not be interesting, as it used to be.
The dean however did not fail to mention the attempt his institution is making to improve the amenities in the school. “In ABU, for example, efforts are now geared towards providing new learning technologies and an ICT-driven university, and a lot has been achieved, but one can still see that remuneration and exposure to tally with the international community are lacking.”
Assessing the activities of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and those of its technical arms, in relation to the progress of the profession, he said if PSN would go by what the Pharmacy Summit reached at the retreat early this year, “we will make a lot of progress towards meeting international standards”.
“All technical groups must be encouraged to take the profession to greater heights. Academia, for example, should be supported to establish private practice, while massive training should be given good encouragement by taking mandatory continuing education seriously, since it has been improved. There should be a lot of linkages between the industrial group, academia and industries, in order to uplift the quality of pharmaceuticals in the country,” he submitted.
When asked about his view on the performance of pharmacists in the society, he said pharmacists are living up to the expectation of their clients within allowable limits determined by state. However, with more facilities and high infrastructure in pharmacy schools and very good regulatory facilitation, more will be achieved.
Speaking on the need for an improved health care system in Nigeria, he noted that the year 2013 is half way, and it is not certain if the budget is operational. He opined that the massive investments in MDGs will assist in reducing maternal and child mortalities; improve enrolment in schools (primary); create easy aaccess to basic health facilities at primary level etc., which will all go a long way in improving the standard of living.
“At the tertiary level, the provision of more up-to-date facilities, trained health professionals would improve the treatment of common ailments and other organic diseases. Medical tourism is one area the Ministry of Health must crack brains to solve. Above all, genuine and effective pharmaceuticals should be ensured.”
The don urged pharmacy students, as future pharmacists, to study hard, in order for them to surpass him and his counterparts, as well as to take the profession to greater heights. He also advised pharmacists to be united, so that they can enjoy every bit of the profession, not giving room to non-professionals to reap where there is even no rain for them to sow.
He also acknowledged the good performance of pharmacy students, when compared with that of non-pharmacy students, adding that there is room for improvement. “The performance of pharmacy students has always been above average. This is because of the raised standard. Whereas other non- professional courses require to have a minimum CGPA of 1.00, the pharmacy students have to maintain a CGPA of 2.40. If therefore you compare the performance of pharmacy students along this line, then you would correctly say they are doing well.”
“However, if you mean the general decline in the standard of education now in the country, then certainly it has also affected pharmacy students, as such. You would find that fewer are graduating with high CGPA, say above 3.50. The standard of pharmacy students therefore has not been down and all those who graduated from any accredited school of pharmacy are professionally alright.”