Ahead of the forthcoming 94th national conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), which will witness the election of a new president that will pilot the affairs of the Society for the next three years, different associations and groups within the pharmaceutical sector have outlined the attributes and agendas they expect from the incoming leader.
Speaking with Pharmanews in separate interviews recently, the leaderships of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP), Nigeria Chapter; the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists in Academia (NAPA); as well as the Indian Pharmaceutical Manufacturer and Importers in Nigeria (IPMIN), unanimously stated that the incoming PSN president must be one with an unblemished record, and who has demonstrated consistent commitment to the advancement of the pharmacy profession in Nigeria.
They added that the emerging candidate must have proven, over the years, to be competent enough to take the pharmaceutical industry to greater heights and at the same time representing the collective interest of the industry as against the selfish interest of a few individuals.
The stakeholders further charged pharmacists who will be voting at the forthcoming conference to be mindful of the quality, personality and professional capacity of the candidate they will be choosing, noting that this will ensure that the best candidate among the contestants is elected to lead the Society.
Chairman of IPMIN, Mr Varkey Varghese, asserted that the incoming president of PSN should be someone who has a track record of successful leadership and can set very high standards that will make indelible impacts in the history of the Society.
Varghese, who is also the managing director of Jawa International Limited, added that the new president should be someone with an innovative approach to problem solving.
He said, “The person to be elected as president at the conference must be someone that can take the PSN to greater heights and make it more visible by his innovative actions. The person must be someone who will be able to fulfil the Society’s dream, by completing the headquarters building project. Again, I want to implore all pharmacists to live based on the oath they have taken and keep the profession high among its equals.”
On her part, chairman of WAPCP Nigeria, Pharm. (Dr) Margaret Obono, stated that the incoming PSN president should be known to be competent, committed, running a successful pharmacy practice, as well as being married and having a stable home.
In her words, “We expect that every pharmacist who wants to be elected to serve in the national executive committee of the PSN, especially the presidential position, should be someone already established and competently running a profitable pharmacy practice. He or she should be someone with a stable home or marriage. He or she should have passion, commitment for the pharmacy profession. He or she should be well connected and have political goodwill.
“The incoming president and his executive committee are expected to move the pharmacy profession to a higher level than it is now. They should address and sort out the implementation of the pharmacist consultant cadre. This is to enable the consultant pharmacists get paid for their impact in the health sector – not just to get paid but to get appropriate remuneration for their services.
“Many fellows are reluctant to build their capacity because of uncertainty over corresponding increase in remuneration. The issue of chaotic drug distribution system is expected to be tackled also headlong by the new president for the benefit of the health of Nigerians”.
Speaking on the conference, Obono, who is a consultant clinical pharmacist, applauded the selected theme, “COVID-19 Lessons: Broadening and Strengthening the Nigerian Pharmaceutical/Health Sector”, saying is it the right time to leverage the lessons the nation has learnt from the pandemic to strengthen the healthcare sector. Obono noted that the lessons learnt so far from the pandemic can get the country out of medicine insecurity for the benefit of the Nigerian citizens, as well as helping to improve the nation’s economy.
She also urged Nigerian pharmacists not to be discouraged by the many challenges currently dogging the profession, especially that of inter-professional rivalry in the health sector.
“What we need to do is to strategise on dissemination of information to the populace. We need to consciously let the populace know who a pharmacist is, his duties and benefits in improving their quality of health. We need to win the hearts of patients so that they will be able to know the experts on drugs”, Obono said.
Also speaking, NAPA chairman, Dr Ezekiel AkinkunmI, said: “The quality of who becomes president is very important and the critical thing is love for the profession and the professionals, which will serve as the catalyst for service. It’s important that the candidate to be elected also has credible antecedents.
“Luckily, we are blessed in the pharmacy profession. Look, for example, at our Presidential candidates. I have not seen such an array of juggernauts before. I’m humbled by their curriculum vitaes. But we look forward to what the person has to offer in term of service, beyond the juicy CV.
He continued, “We are not looking for a boss but a servant-leader and a co-labourer. We look forward to leaders who will be pathfinders, creating ways in the muddy waters of our profession. We look forward to a president who will make a positively strong difference and take us out of the rhetorics.”
Akinkunmi also said he expects that the approaching conference will be one with a difference, considering the selected theme, which he said would help to strengthening the health sector, adding that members of his association are set for a rewarding outing in November.
He said, “You will agree with me that COVID-19 have changed the total landscape of our world. Whether we like it or not, a new world is emerging, thanks to COVID-19. We’ve had lots of experience with the pandemic. Yet, there is still much more to know. We have learnt a lot and we are still learning.
“As stakeholders in the health sector of the country, it’s time pharmacists in Nigeria started putting together the lessons from the pandemic so that we can broaden and strengthen our sector and not miss out important things. This is what this conference will begin to address. The theme is apt, concise and timely.
Further speaking on behalf of his colleagues in academia, Akinkunmi said, “As critical stakeholders in the PSN project, we are all getting ready to be part of this conference. Colleagues in all schools of pharmacy are looking forward to a good time in Port Harcourt, come November. Garden City 2021 promises to be a conference with a difference and we look forward to a time of great and memorable inter and intra professional interactions, education and enlightenment.”
The NAPA leader equally charged pharmacists in the country to always uphold the sanctity of the profession, while renewing their commitment towards providing the needed pharmaceutical care to the populace.