Pharm. Shapi James Danjuma is chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Adamawa State Chapter and managing director, J.D.S Pharmacy, Jimeta, Yola, Adamawa State. In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Danjuma recalls the circumstances that led to his emergence as the number one community pharmacist in the state. He also discusses the effects of the present economic downturn on community practice, while also suggesting ways to improve the situation. Excerpts:
Tell us about the activities and achievements of ACPN Adamawa, since you took over as chairman.
I took over the leadership of the association on 6 December 2015, following the sudden disappearance of the past chairman and vice chairman as a result of the frightening security situation in the northeast, arising from the activities of Boko Haram. Fortunately, the then secretary, Pharm. Alhassan Okutepa, and the financial secretary (now late) Pharm. Romanus Dilibe, were on ground to lend support.
ACPN, under my leadership, has been able to enlighten the people of the state about who a community pharmacist is and what he does through series of enlightenment programmes on television and radio stations.
We are happy that both the lettered and unlettered people of the state now have better understanding of difference between a patent medicine dealer and a registered pharmacist.
We have also established a robust relationship with stakeholders like the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) through advocacy visits.
In addition, the association is getting strong footing by ensuring that the issue of register and go (R&G) is reduced to the barest minimum and we are working seriously to minimise indiscriminate opening of pharmacies without recourse to rules and regulations, due to political interferences. We have recently conducted election into the offices of the general secretary and financial secretary respectively.
What has been the challenge of running such an important association as ACPN, and what strategies have you been deploying to surmount them?
Quackery and indiscriminate opening of pharmacies have been the major challenges, but we have developed a strategy through courtesy visits to political leaders to let them know the consequence of permitting indiscriminate opening of pharmacies and patent medicine stores in the state, and we cited the case of how Kano drug market was closed.
The state of the Nigerian economy is affecting all sectors, including health, and this is having effect on businesses. How is this affecting community pharmacy practice in Adamawa State?
Naturally, the buying power of the state populace is critically low and it is also 80 percent civil service oriented. Now that the economy is in recession, community practice is increasingly difficult because many cannot afford to buy their medication due to lack of money and when they want to buy, they prefer to purchase low quality brands.
If you were to advise the federal government on measures or policies that can help improve healthcare in Nigeria, what would be your advice?
I would advise the federal government to declare state of emergency in the health sector. Generally over 70 per cent of pharmaceutical needs of Nigeria is import-dependent. Therefore, I would advise the federal government to reduce the import duty on pharmaceuticals and create enabling environment for indigenous manufacturers of our pharmaceutical needs to thrive.
What do you think is wrong with the way community pharmacy is being practised in Nigeria?
Community pharmacy in Nigeria is not based on patients care yet, and until that is in operation, community practice will continue to suffer setback.
For example, I take responsibility for every pill I dispense and that accounts for the little success I am recording in community practice. The professional manpower need in the state is huge so in my own pharmacy, we render professional pharmaceutical care and the community has noticed it; so people now understand the difference between a pharmacy and a chemist shop, especially in the state capital.
What is your view on retail chain pharmacy practice in Nigeria?
My view on retail chain is that Nigeria is not ripe for it. It can never get my support because it is trade-oriented and not service-oriented.
How do you see the annual PSN and ACPN national conferences?
Of all the professional annual conferences, ACPN still remains the best, followed by PSN. Other professional bodies copy our style (laughs).
What message do you have for your colleagues in the state?
My message to ACPN members in the state is that they should learn to be the community pharmacists they are trained and licensed to be, not dropping their license for a fee and go practice because by doing so they are destroying community pharmacy practice and many of them will regret later.