– As he clinches Princess Diana Award
Greatman Adiela Owhor, a native of Rivers State and 2020 graduate of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Port Harcourt, recently won the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts – The Diana Award. Established in memory of Diana, the late Princess of Wales, the award is given out by the Princess Diana Award charity and has the support of both her sons, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex. In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Owhor, who received the prestigious recognition for his work as a global health advocate, recounts the process that led to the notable achievement, his plans after the award, as well as his view on advancing pharmacy practice in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Tell us your experience on being conferred with the Diana Award.
It’s a huge thing for me to be counted worthy of receiving the Prestigious Diana Award from the Royal Family in the UK. Being the most prestigious award any young person globally can receive for their humanitarian action, I can truly say I am proud to be a recipient.
I believe in the Ubuntu philosophy that says “I am because you are”; we are living in a connected world, and we live not only for ourselves, but also for others.
Can you tell us some of your achievements that could have qualified you for this recognition?
It’s in my nature to make myself available to work for others. I attended a programme in Uyo in August 2019 that changed my life. It was the “Global Health Emerging Leaders Programme”, organised by the Global Health Focus (GHF). At that programme, my eyes were opened to the limitless opportunities that are available to every young leader in Africa.
My fellow graduates later served as a huge support system and mentors to guide me in the many steps I took thereafter. These include, Pharm. Iwendi Godsgift, Melody Okereke, Pharm. Adebisi Adebayo, Pharm. Dike Victory and Pharm. Cynthia, to mention a few.
I developed a global mentality, even when approaching local issues. My success journey began with lots of volunteering and public health promotion; I volunteered both internationally and locally. At the International level, notably, I volunteered for the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) in 2020, supporting its Lead, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO). At the end of the programme I was issued a recommendation letter for my work. In the early months of 2021, I interned at the Alliance for Health Promotion (A4HP), a non-state actor for the WHO.
Locally, I have volunteered for several organisations and NGOs including the Young Pharmacists Group (YPG) and missionary organisations. I was recognised for my volunteering in December 2019 by the World Safety Organization (WSO) and my face was added to the volunteers’ banner.
I deployed myself to the YPG in Rivers State in 2020, serving under several committees to promote several activities, such as health promotion campaigns, health education programmes and COVID-19 awareness campaigns.
In November 2020 I was awarded the Young Pharmacist of the Year award in Rivers State for my contributions.
My interests in research and health writing drew me closer to likeminded people. Singly and through collaborative efforts, I have published in international journals, notably the International Journal of Health Planning. Locally, I have contributed several health articles to health blogs, and prestigious newspapers like the Vanguard online newspaper.
I have a huge interest in health promotion. Currently, I am serving YPG as the public health coordinator for both Cross River State and Nigeria, promoting health and healthy living among Nigerians.
Kindly, tell us how the nominations went. Who nominated you and what made you qualified?
The Diana Award recognises young people who are working to make the lives of others better. Nominees must be aged between nine and 25 years, and carrying out their activities for at least 12 months. Anyone can be nominated for this award. However, the nominator should be someone that knows you in a professional capacity, like your teacher. Nominations by family members are not valid.
Each Diana Award nomination is reviewed against the criteria by an external regional judging panel, comprising young people, experts in the youth sector, business and educational professionals.
I was nominated by my colleague, Pharm. Dike Victory, and the current Coordinator of YPG Rivers State, Pharm. Princewill Okitche. What an honour!
What made me qualified? Well, I fall within the required age range – I will be 24 by 1 August. I have been carrying out selfless activities for more than a year, and my nominators met the required criteria.
Do you mind telling us your plans after receiving this great recognition?
This is a wonderful feat for me, my family, my state and Nigeria. I cannot truly express my joy. Still, I am a fan for putting past glories behind me and reaching for even better days.
This award has truly encouraged me to serve others better. Previously, I have had lots of people reprimand me when I told them I was working (volunteering) because I wasn’t getting paid, or receiving some form of benefit – or at least, none that they could see as commensurate.
Now, everyone can see that supporting others sometimes can mean supporting yourself. I promoted health, and now I am being promoted.
For the future, I want to be part of the decision-makers regarding health in my country and globally. There’s much work to do to get to the pinnacle of anything, yet we must relentlessly reach for it by God’s grace.
I will be mentoring, inspiring and supporting younger individuals because they can outdo anything I have done, and it’s the only way to make more Diana recipients out of young Nigerians.
What are those grounds pharmacists in Nigeria need to cover in Pharmacy such that other nations can recognise them?
In Nigeria, pharmacists are strongly embracing the shift from being product-oriented to being patient-oriented. As pharmacists, we owe our patients a duty of care, and this must be seen in all settings. Increased engagement in providing clinical services to patients will boost the relevance of pharmacists.
Also, improvement in the supply chain of medicines and poisons, to reduce the handling and dispensing of medicines by unauthorised personnel, is a welcomed development.
The area of technology is expanding daily, with artificial intelligence and 3D printing of drugs among others. Having many pharmacists venturing into this area will put them at the pinnacle of the health sector in the future.
Finally, more attention and promotion can be paid to research and drug development. This is a primary aspect of the profession, and if effected can boost the profession and improve our relevance.