– As Dean recommends review of pharmacists’ remuneration
Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr Mohammed Amali, has bemoaned the effects of the ongoing strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the programmes of the faculty, stating that the strike had stalled most of its planned activities.
Amali told Pharmanews that the faculty was still making efforts to recover from the disruptions created by COVID-19, when the ASUU strike started. He appealed to the Federal Government to listen to ASUU and bring the protracted strike to an end.
According to the dean, “The ASUU strike has really affected the programmes of the faculty. Following the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, when school resumed, the university took a decision to run the semesters concurrently, without going on holidays, to ensure that we bridge the gap that was created during the pandemic.
“We were already moving forward when the ASUU strike came and truncated the aim the university was trying to achieve. The students are now losing valuable time and they will likely lose more time, unless something drastic is done.”
Amali also revealed that, as part of effort by the faculty to further equip the students, it had started activities at its Drug information Centre.
The centre, he said, is domiciled in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Practice, adding that the usage of the centre had also been inculcated into the curriculum of the students. Accordingly, the students now have a module which mandates the use of the centre in honing their skills in the areas of drug information and the latest techniques in drug formulation.
The dean stressed the ultimate goal is to mould the students to be at par with modern trends in the pharmaceutical world, adding that the Faculty is planning to subsequently set up some projects to see how the centre can be fully utilised and further upgraded to enable it meet the purpose for which it was established.
Amali also said that despite the external factors affecting the programme of the faculty and the entire university, the faculty will not relent in ensuring that it produces the best brains that will add indelible value to the pharmaceutical space.
He stated, “Between mid-last year (2021) and now, we have had some activities in the faculty. We conducted the foreign graduate pharmacy orientation programme for the northern zone, which was held in the faculty and it was a huge success. The Nigerian University Commission (NUC) carried out re-accreditation exercise on our B.Pharm programme, which is usually done every five years, and it was also a huge success.”
The seasoned academic also used the opportunity to call on stakeholders in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry to pay more attention to regulation and control, to ensure that the industry is not hijacked or bastardised by unscrupulous and untrained people.
He further lamented the influx of quacks in the industry, saying: “There are many untrained people now encroaching into the pharmacy ecosystem, which is not really good for us. We have patent medicine dealers; we have nurses and other healthcare professionals that are coming into the space where they know little or nothing about and we need to guard that space jealously.”
The dean equally harped on the need for stakeholders in the pharmacy profession to work together to develop a policy that will ensure that all the anomalies in the industry are dealt with in a way that the attempt by charlatans to invade the industry will not be sustainable. He specifically called on the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Ministry of Health to work with other stakeholders in the sector to ensure that the industry is sanitised.
Amali also decried the exodus of Nigerian pharmacists out of the country, saying it is a bad signal for the industry, the health sector and the country at large. As a solution, he recommended an upward review of the remuneration of pharmacists in the country.
In his words: “There is need to critically look into the rate at which fresh graduates and even the experienced pharmacists are migrating abroad. Yes, we can’t stop them and I can’t also blame them because the economic situation in the country is not desirable for many aspiring pharmacist.
“But be that as it may, there is need to look into the remuneration of not only those that have stayed for some years in the practice but also for those that are coming in. There is need to encourage them so that they will remain here, because if they keep leaving, we will end up not having the requisite manpower to combat all the challenges confronting the pharmacy profession and the entire health sector, which is not good for the country.”