The 86th Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), tagged “Harmony 2013” with the theme, “Evolving Best Practices in Patient Care”, held at the Kwara State Government Banquet Hall, Ilorin, Kwara State, on 4-8 November, will go down in the history of PSN as one of the most memorable.
There were many positives about this national conference. First and, perhaps, most noteworthy is the huge number of pharmacists that turned out for the conference. Attendance at this conference was indeed great compared to recent PSN conferences, as pharmacists from all over the country came in droves to be part of the conference.
The conference was also made quite glamorous with the presence of notable personalities led by the hosting governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, executive governor of Kwara State. The dashing and amiable helmsman of Kwara State with his presence and simple carriage added much colour to the opening ceremony.
Also, the presence of the chairman of the opening ceremony, Hon. Justice Mustapha Akanbi, former president, Court of Appeal and former chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), as well as that of the eloquent Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, former minister of health, equally made the event remarkable.
Perhaps more than any other personality, the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji (Dr.) Ibrahim Sulu Gambari added significant spice to the opening ceremony with his presence. The revered traditional ruler was intermittently and lovingly hailed “Shehu” by participants at the opening ceremony.
The leadership of the PSN, the Conference Plannning Committee (CPC) and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) also did well, with a number of innovations that made the conference interesting and enjoyable. The choice of the Kwara State Banquet Hall was particularly a commendable one as the hall was spacious and conducive enough to accommodate pharmacists at the opening ceremony.
The provision of a public address system outside the conference hall was also quite innovative and impressive, as it enabled participants outside the hall to be part of all the proceedings.
The exhibition ground was also a positive because it was quite large and allowed exhibitors and participants to interact without hassle. Also, the provision of air-conditioned exhibition booths for some companies is also novel. In future, this is perhaps the ideal that should be considered for all exhibitors.
The organisers should also be commended for the provision of free internet service to participants and for constantly updating participants on conference events through short message service (sms).
Also, the visible sign of security operatives around the venue was exceptionally reassuring.
We must also commend the keynote address speaker, Prof. Fola Tayo, for presenting a very illuminating paper on the theme of the conference. Same goes for other speakers at the plenary sessions for their educative papers.
It should be pointed out however, that there were certain aspects of the 86th PSN Conference that could have been better, and it is imperative for organisers of the next conference, holding in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to note these in order to make the conference even more special.
First and most important is the need to improve the registration procedure. Several of the pharmacists present at the event had a hard time registering and getting conference materials. The process was quite distressing for some pharmacists who were eventually unable to get their full conference materials for one reason or the other. The fact is that PSN can and indeed should be able to have a seamless registration process for its annual conference.
Another area of challenge was unavailability of parking space for vehicles. The parking space in the conference venue was not large enough to accommodate vehicles. For subsequent conferences, organisers should ensure there is a better arrangement for parking of vehicles.
A major distraction was also constituted by the excessive number of hawkers, selling of all sorts of things at the conference venue. It is advisable to better manage the activities of these traders in subsequent events, so as not to turn the PSN annual conference exhibition to a common open market.
Despite the few observed lapses, however, the ‘Harmony 2013’ conference will continue to be remembered by many pharmacists. The challenge is for the organisers of the 2014 PSN Annual Conference to ensure they improve on the achievements of the conference in Kwara State.