Usifoh, Ahmed, Others Charge Pharmacists to Revisit Practice Basics

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– As Babalola calls for disruptive dynamics in Pharmacy

Usifoh, Ahmed, others charge pharmacists to revisit practice basics President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Professor Cyril Usifoh, and other notables in the pharmaceutical sector have called on pharmacists in academia and other practice areas to revisit the basics of pharmacy training and practice, saying this will help to chart a new course for the profession in Nigeria.

Usifoh made the call at the recent 20th Annual Scientific Conference of the Nigeria Association of Pharmacists in Academia (NAPA), held at Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile-Ife. Tagged “Ife 2022”, the theme of the conference was “Pharmacy Education, Research and Practice: Revisiting the Basics”.

In his remarks at the conference, the PSN president stressed that academic pharmacists are the engine room of the pharmacy profession, noting that they are the producers of men of honor that make up the profession. He reiterated PSN’s commitment to working with NAPA for a better pharmacy profession.

In his words, “I look forward as your president to working with NAPA in achieving our collective goal of defending the course of Pharmacy to be able to perform her leadership roles in ensuring medicine security for the health of our nation.

“It is certain that if we will be able to play our roles properly, we must have a good grasp of the basics of the profession in all ramifications. Those of us in academia must be leading from the front. We must be seen to be ahead. We are the teachers, the researchers, and the developers of policies. Our calling and industry exist to serve Pharmacy and produce pharmacy professionals that are able, capable, and trustworthy.”

Usifoh also stated the need for academic pharmacists to collaborate with other stakeholders in the sector, so as to achieve the ultimate goals of producing quality pharmacists and ensuring medicine security for the country.

Earlier in his remarks, Vice-Chancellor, OAU, Professor A. S. Bamire, stated that the roles of academic pharmacists cannot be overemphasized, adding that there is a need to revisit the basics, so as to move the profession forward.

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Also speaking, a former Board Chairman of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Emeritus Professor Festus Adio Ogunbona, who was the chairman of the occasion, said, “Pharmacists in academia need to revisit the basics so that they can continue to produce men of honor.”

Current Registrar of the PCN, Pharm. Ibrahim Babashehu Ahmed revealed that the Council was having strategic interactions with NAPA, assuring that the interactions will be fruitful and beneficial to the pharmacy profession and Nigeria, as a whole.

According to Ahmed, “It’s a known fact that members of NAPA are critical stakeholders in the healthcare sector. This is so because they take time to train, educate, develop and assess pharmacy students, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals and conduct research through their expertise. This has positioned members of NAPA as a gateway for competencies and skill development, as well as exploring research and development for the progress and development of our country Nigeria.

“The theme of this conference is apt. We really need to revisit the basics. Over time, pharmacy research and practice have traveled on divergent paths, and current events in the healthcare space demand that these divergent paths should be collapsed into one path so that the outcomes of research feed the practice components of the profession.

“We, at PCN, will always look forward to evidence-based innovations that will guide the formulation of policies and regulations. We are also open to collaborative research, especially in those areas that are directly linked with the PCN mandate.”

The National Chairman of NAPA, Dr. Ezekiel Olugbenga Akinkunmi, in his opening address, explained that the theme of the conference was selected with the aim of re-examining the core duties of academics, which are teaching, research, and community services.

Akinkunmi said, “It is in view of the present realities of our time that we have chosen the theme of this conference. We feel that despite the increasing complexities of our world, the solution to our increasing challenges can only come through simplicity and a return to the basics. As pharmacists in academia, our roles are well-defined. First, we are pharmacists, the noblest of all known professions and the live-wire of the healthcare system. Secondly, we are academics, the intellectual department, and think-thank of all progressive economies.

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“As an association, our members are responsible for the training of pharmacists. As it were, the viability of future pharmacists depends largely on the vitality of the association. The fact remains that if we fail, the whole profession fails. God forbid, but the present reality of decay in our society attests convincingly to this assertion. There is a need for all to rise and assist the academia and our educational system.”

While presenting the keynote address, the Vice-Chancellor, Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Professor Chinedum Peace Babalola, noted that it is imperative not just to revisit the basics but to actually trigger disruptive dynamics (DD) from the basics, saying this is the only way to go if the profession must move forward.

According to Babalola, disruptive innovation of basic preliminary courses that will include case studies and the use of visual aids, such as virtual laboratories, anatomic, and short videos, among others, is vital for pharmacists in academia to move the profession forward.

She noted that, in the past, the pharmacist was only a basic scientist, contented with just choosing any area of practice, whereas the training received was rigorous enough to make him or she fit into whatever other areas of endeavor desired.

“The scope of pharmacy practice is rapidly changing and the enablers for this to occur will be system changes that unlock the potential of pharmacists to practice to their full scope,” Babalola said.

She further explained that sustainable development of a discipline such as Pharmacy at the postgraduate level remains in the relevance of education received, noting that the focus of postgraduate pharmacy education in advanced societies has shifted to paying more attention to scientific research, problem-solving, program management, self-education, and disciplinary integration.

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The Chrisland University VC however admitted that adequate funding is required to meet emerging trends in pharmacy education, adding that the development of academic staff and infrastructure is among the key areas of investment required to advance pharmacy education in Nigeria.

She further emphasized that there is already a paradigm shift in pharmaceutical research, noting that the slogan in research has changed from “publish or perish” to “publish, societal impact or perish”.

“Emphasis is no longer only on the number of publications but more on the impact of publications and strength of journal,” the keynote speaker said, adding that research must be relevant to trending health challenges and students must also be encouraged to participate in research and innovation endeavor.

According to Babalola, one of the ways to revisit the basics and cause disruptive dynamics in pharmacy practice is to allow drug information apps to rapidly replace official books in pharmaceutical premises.

“Electronic medical records of patients should be accessible in hospitals, community pharmacies, and personally to patients via a seamless connection. In microbial studies, bioinformatics is used to establish intra and inter-relationship between microorganisms. Hence, there is a need to set up a bioinformatics curriculum.

“This curriculum should cover aspects, such as biology and bioinformatics, biologic sequencing alignment, DNA sequencing technique, motif research, protein folding method, repetitive patterns of biological sequences, detecting DNA coding regions, gene evolution, bioinformatics platform, and docking,” Babalola said.

The keynote speaker averred that now is the best time to disrupt learning, research, and practice in the pharmacy profession.

“We have to be proactive,” she urged. “Ideas for strategy are required on our part as academic pharmacists. There is a great need to collaborate with one another and other professionals and scientists in our job. New knowledge, new skills, and new approaches are needed to teach both basic and practice-based courses. With the help of God and a positive mindset, all things are achievable.”

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