Stakeholders Task Pharmacists on Innovation to Achieve UHC


– As Lagos ACPN holds continuing education conference 2024

Prof. Cyril Usifoh, president, PSN (middle), flanked by Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator, immediate past chairman, ACPN, Lagos; Pharm. (Mrs) Bolanle Adeniran, former chairman, Lagos PSN; Pharm. Bola Oyawole, former presidential aspirant of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); Pharm. Gafar Madehin, national secretary, PSN, and Pharm. Tolu Ajayi, chairman, Lagos ACPN, at the conference.

For Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to be a reality in Nigeria, stakeholders in the healthcare sector have charged pharmacists to embrace innovation, create value and reposition for new opportunities.

The industry leaders including Dr Kemi Ogunyemi, special adviser to the Lagos State Governor on health; Prof. Cyril Usifoh, president, PSN; Pharm. Wale Oladigbolu, national chairman, ACPN, and Pharm. (Mrs) Abimbola Adebakin, founder and chief executive officer of Advantage Health Africa, gave the charge at the 2024 Continuing Education Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Lagos State Chapter, held recently at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Ikeja, Lagos.

Addressing the pharmacists, Dr Ogunyemi, disclosed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s recognition for every member of the healthcare team, irrespective of the profession they belong, whether they are doctors, pharmacists, nurses or any profession, adding that all he expects from everyone is value creation and usefulness.

“The onus is on us as members of the healthcare team to make ourselves relevant and valuable in the scheme of things as far as the state healthcare project is concerned. We want ACPN to partner with us, likewise, other bodies who before now have the feeling that healthcare is all about the medical doctors. Let us have a change of mindset and join the progressive train of Lagos”, she said.

A cross-section of participants at the conference.

She continued, “Pharmacists are major players in the healthcare sector of the state and you are valued. We cannot do it alone, and as you all know how strategic Lagos State is in this country, such that if we sneeze, other states would catch a cold, so let us come together, work as one, create values, make ourselves relevant, embrace innovations and do away with the mindset of ‘we are not needed”.

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In the same vein, Prof. Usifoh noted that pharmacists are not in the country to compete with anyone, but to ensure that the average Nigerian benefit from healthcare services and to also contribute their quota in the realization of the UHC, adding that the members are ready to work with the state government in its effort towards healthcare delivery in the state.

Usifoh further noted that with over 40 per cent of the nation’s community pharmacists residing in Lagos State, the association is ready to ensure that the average Nigerians get the benefit that they deserve, adding that the fact that the community pharmacists are already positioned and strengthened to function well at the primary healthcare level cannot be wished away, as they are partners in the healthcare team.

In his speech, Pharm. Oladigbolu lamented that Nigeria has the highest out-of-pocket spending on healthcare in the world, with citizens being responsible for more than half of their healthcare costs, adding that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria faces the challenge of a fragmented healthcare system which is costly, broken, and disconnected, with no access to care, and haphazardly rising costs of healthcare.

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He however opined that the solution to bridging the gaps in healthcare in Nigeria and the achievement of universal healthcare lies with the Pharmacy profession, adding that ‘’Community pharmacy services can make up for the shortage of healthcare personnel, resulting in effective healthcare coverage in the country

Speaking earlier, Pharm. Tolu Ajayi, chairman of ACPN Lagos, said the conference was designed to ensure members of the association are not left out in the scheme of things even as the world keeps developing daily.

“What we called excellence in life is simply continuous improvement, so we thought of how community pharmacists could continue to get better and become excellent at what we do. We stand on two legs, we are professionals on one leg, and we are also into business on the other leg, so, what we aim to do is to look at how to improve our practice, and strengthen the members for UHC”.

The new ACPN boss disclosed that the Continuous Education Conference programme in Lagos had been held consistently over the years because of the importance that the Lagos ACPN places on knowledge and effective service delivery.

The keynote speaker at the two-day conference, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Drugstoc Limited, Dr Chibuzo Opara, noted that to achieve UHC, there is need for expansion of community pharmacists into health management and insurance, accurate projection of community medication’s need, vaccination and chronic disease care.

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Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Strengthening community pharmacy practice for universal health coverage”, Opara called on the community pharmacists to tap into technology, and innovation, to drive UHC, adding that if the professionals fail to do it, the quacks would do it for them.

Also in her lecture titled, “Innovative business models for community pharmacies in a high inflation economy”, Pharm. (Mrs)  Abimbola Adebakin, founder and chief executive officer of Advantage Health Africa, noted that innovation is the lifeblood of every successful business, adding that ‘White Space Strategy’ which is identifying gaps and highlighting potential areas of consumer spending that aren’t yet acquired is key.

“We are in the digital knowledge economy. As a business owner or professional, taking your knowledge and expertise for granted is tempting. Your expertise is a skill honed by years of immersion and practice, and regardless of what field you’re in, that expertise has value. And you can sell it. Such knowledge may be clinical or non-clinical”

“To explore innovation is to dare to explore an uncharted territory. Many persons are reluctant to enter any white space because of fear of the unknowns. As a result, this often leads to people not wanting to take risks and instinctively retreat to their comfort zone. Step into the growth zone by embracing learning, exploring curiosity and taking risks. Stay innovative”, she stressed.


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