Maximise Pharma Sector’s Potentials for Economic Growth, Ojo Charges FG

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– Says clinical pharmacists crucial to effective healthcare delivery

My foremost agenda is to defend, repackage pharmacy profession – Lolu Ojo, PSN presidential aspirant
Pharm. (Dr) Obalolu Ojo

As experts continue to explore ways to grow the Nigerian economy, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Merit Healthcare Limited, Dr Lolu Ojo, has called on the government to look in the direction of the nation’s pharmaceutical sector as it has manifold potentials for economic advancement.

Ojo, a presidential aspirant of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), made this call recently at a special edition of the weekly clinical meeting of the Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria (CPAN), themed, “Maximising the Clinical Pharmacist’s Knowledge and Skills for Effective Service Delivery in Nigeria’s Health Sector”.

Ojo who was the guest speaker at the meeting, monitored via Zoom by Pharmanews, said in his presentation that if more attention is paid to the pharmaceutical sector, the Nigerian economy will be revamped and repositioned for steady growth.

According to the Merit Healthcare CEO, the pharmaceutical sector plays a pivotal role in the healthcare system, which ultimately translates to a strong economy. Citing a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Ojo noted that a mere 10 per cent increase in life expectancy ensures an economic growth of around 0.4 per cent each year.

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According to him, “With a population of over 200 million, if Nigeria can pay more attention to the pharmaceutical sector, we can grow our economy. The top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world – Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Roche, Norvatis, Merck, GSK, Sanofi, Abbvie, Takeda and Shanghai – had a turnover of $426.57billion or 226 trillion naira in 2020, which is about 25 times more than Nigeria’s budget.

“It is therefore correct to say a country like Nigeria, with a huge potential demand base, can look towards the pharmaceutical sector to grow the economy.”

Ojo further spoke on the vital roles of clinical pharmacists in the nation’s healthcare system, saying they are the sole inspiration behind many medications and thus their knowledge and skills must be maximised for effective service delivery in Nigeria’s health sector.

While highlighting the roles of clinical pharmacists to effective service delivery in the nation’s health sector, Ojo noted that they are specialists in assessing the status of the patient’s health problems and determining whether the prescribed medications are optimally meeting the patient’s needs and goals of care.

“Clinical pharmacists evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of the patient’s medications; recognise untreated health problems that could be improved or resolved with appropriate medication therapy; follow the patient’s progress to determine the effects of the patient’s medications on his or her health; consult with the patient’s physicians and other healthcare providers in selecting the medication therapy that best meets the patient’s needs and contributes effectively to the overall therapy goals,” Ojo said.

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Other vital roles being played by clinical pharmacists, according to Ojo, include advising patients on how to best take his or her medications; supporting the healthcare team’s efforts to educate the patient on other important steps to improve or maintain health, such as exercise, diet, and preventive steps like immunisation; as well as referring the patient to his or her physician or other health professionals to address specific health, wellness, or social services concerns, as they arise.

He further stated that clinical pharmacists have therapeutic knowledge, possess problem-solving skills, have decision-making abilities, possess understanding of regulations,  give strong attention to details, have clear focus on quality, possess effective counselling abilities, involve in critical thinking, as well as displaying a high level of professionalism.

According to the guest speaker, one of the ways to maximise the skills of clinical pharmacists for effective healthcare delivery is to recognise clinical pharmacy as a specialty within the pharmacy profession through specific credentialing.

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Ojo said, “There must be adequate supply of clinical pharmacists; that is, having enough clinical pharmacists to perform the work demanded of them. Clinical pharmacists must be given an adequate scope of practice, including legal permission to practise semi-independently in a meaningful way, prescribing medications, ordering and interpreting labs, and taking a medication-related history.

“There must be demand by employers, such as pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, managed care companies among others to hire clinical pharmacists and utilise them fully.  Then there must be acceptance of the clinical pharmacist’s role by other medical professionals as part of the healthcare team.”

The PSN presidential aspirant also called on the Nigerian government to formulate and enforce policies that will enhance maximisation of clinical pharmacists’ knowledge and skills for effective healthcare delivery, insisting that the government holds the key to institutional development and creation of conducive environment for systemic growth.

The guest speaker also called for attitudinal change among the leaders of the various institutions in the country, stressing that they must give pharmacists the rightful recognition they deserve as professionals in the health sector.

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