Stakeholders Task Pharmacists on Value Creation, Innovation, to Achieve UHC

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A- As Lagos ACPN holds 2024 Continuing Education Conference 

Stakeholders Task Pharmacists on Value Creation, Innovation, to Achieve UHC
A cross-section of dignitaries and participants at the 2024 Lagos ACPN Continuous Education Conference, held at Balmoral Convention Centre, Ikeja, Lagos.

Key stakeholders in the health sector have said that Nigerian pharmacists must lead the charge in innovation and value creation to unlock new opportunities and make universal health coverage (UHC) a reality in the country. They emphasised stressing that pharmacy practice is critical to achieving a healthy nation.

The personages, who included Dr Kemi Ogunyemi, special adviser to the Lagos State Governor on health, Prof. Cyril Usifoh, president, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), and Pharm. Wale Oladigbolu, national chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), gave the charge at the 2024 Continuing Education Conference of the ACPN, Lagos State Chapter, held recently at the Balmoral Convention Centre, Ikeja, Lagos.

Dr Ogunyemi, in her address, disclosed that the state governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, values every member of the healthcare team, adding that his utmost expectation from everyone is value creation and usefulness.

According to her, “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 continued: “Pharmacists are major players in the healthcare set-up of the state and you are valued. We cannot do it alone. Let us come together, work as one, create value, 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 any other health professional but to ensure that the average Nigerian benefits from healthcare services, while also contributing their quota in the realisation of the UHC. He assured that the drug custodians are ready to work with the state government in its effort towards healthcare delivery in the state.

Usifoh further noted that pharmacists are ever ready to ensure that the average Nigerian gets the health benefit that they deserve, adding that the fact that community pharmacists are already positioned and strengthened to function well at the primary healthcare level makes them indispensable 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. He observed that UHC in Nigeria faces the challenge of a fragmented healthcare system that is costly, broken, and disconnected.

He however assured that the solution to bridging the gaps in healthcare in Nigeria and achieving universal healthcare lies with the pharmacy profession.

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According to him, ‘’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 were not left out in the scheme of things, as the world keeps developing daily.

“What we call 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,” Ajayi said.

The 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 further called on 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. Abimbola Adebakin, founder and chief executive officer of Advantage Health Africa, noted that innovation is the lifeblood of every successful business, adding that the “white space strategy”, which involves identifying gaps and highlighting potential areas of consumer spending that are not yet acquired is key.

Adebakin said, “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 unknown. 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.”

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