It was a colourful and unique birthday celebration for the quintessential Founder of Victory Drugs Limited, Pharm. (Mrs) Folasade Olufunke Lawal, in Lagos on 29 September 2023, a day that coincided with the celebration of World Heart Day, as several pharmacists and notable personalities, friends and family members turned up for her 60th birthday ceremony with ‘Health Fair Max’, a comprehensive health outreach.
The glitzy occasion, which featured free medical consultation, health education, cardiovascular risk assessment, blood pressure and blood sugar check, anthropometry, mental health, wealth creation, spiritual support and counselling, and vaccine education, among others was held at the Church of the Pentecost Hall, Festac, Lagos.
Declaring the event opened, Pharm. Gbolagade Iyiola, immediate past chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Lagos State Branch, noted that the event was not only unique but also one of its kind, saying the celebrant is not just a gift to her family, but to the Pharmacy profession in the country.
Iyiola, who eulogised Lawal’s contributions to community pharmacy practice in the country, said the Victory Drugs boss has been a pioneer of what we can call community pharmacy impact practice, saying she takes rendering pharmaceutical services to people beyond merchandise.
He continued, “Pharm Lawal has impacted lives, and looking at the way she decided to celebrate her birthday, you would notice that it was a unique way. A lot of people have celebrated birthdays of this nature by going to one of the exotic halls to party and make merry, but she preferred to touch lives with her birthday by embracing preventive care against pump and pageantry, this is highly commendable.
Speaking on the commemoration of this year’s World Heart Day, the former PSN boss, appealed to pharmacists to continually sound it to their clients that care for heart is very important, stressing that the day someone’s heart stops beating is the day everything ends.
Speaking in the same vein, Dr (Mrs) Mesiama Ekanem, an anesthetist and critical care expert, who was one of the experts at the medical screening, described the celebrant as a bundle of knowledge, and someone very passionate about preventive healthcare provision, adding that she is a firm believer in the saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’.
“She has a unique way of relating with her patients and she follows them once they have been diagnosed and if there is a need for them to be referred, she would do that. I got to know her about three years ago and the first thing that struck me about her was that she knows everything and she has an answer to every question, not just a solution, but an accurate one to the extent that she relates with all members of the healthcare team freely”.
In an emotion-laden voice, Dr Ilerioluwa Lawal, one of the children of the celebrant, who also participated in the free medical screening, described Pharm. Lawal, as someone who is favourably disposed to collaboration and peaceful coexistence against confrontation and rivalry in the healthcare sector, saying she is an amazing person professionally and as a mother.
She is the kind of person who can bring all healthcare providers, including doctors, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, nurses and others under the same roof and help them to coexist and see things from each other’s perspectives, which is exactly what we need in the healthcare industry rather than seeing people who should be working together fighting one another.
The young Lawal, who just completed his internship at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, noted that Mrs Lawal, as a mother is a stubborn person when it comes to the things she firmly believes in, adding that a good example is her 60th birthday celebration in which she vehemently rejected the idea to throw a lavish birthday party for her, but instead opted for free medical screening and ensure it came to a reality.
While speaking, the celebrant, Pharm. Lawal, recalled an event from 5 years ago, precisely in 2018, when she was diagnosed with a tumour in the colon. She said after the removal of the tumour through surgery, she found out that it was not a tumour but cancer, but at a very early stage, saying it was great news for her because it was discovered at an early stage, a development that further fueled her passion for preventive health.
She said: “I decided to invest more in preventive health and that is one of the reasons we have a table on colon health at the Fair and we have experts to talk to people about it. Mine was divine so the best is to catch it early because it takes up to 10 years for it to develop into cancer, so the best is to catch it early”.
The celebrant who was full of smiles noted that throwing parties up and down would take us nowhere as humans, explaining that rather than engaging in jamboree, she always look out for opportunities to preach preventive health and do very productive things. “I just want something that would better impact people, because if I throw a party today, people would come but what happens after eating and drinking, they will all go home and forget about today, in fact, they might eat what they are not supposed to eat, so I rather organise things that impact people positively,” she said.
Speaking earlier, Mrs Remi Ebea, a former teacher to the celebrant’s children and neighbour of several years, commended Mrs Lawal for opting for impactful gestures, rather than merry-making, adding that if she had decided to cook and throw a party, everyone would come, eat and forget everything.” However, this comprehensive health check and education that she has given us is worth more than food and drinks and it has affected many lives positively” she said.