Mega Healthcare Distribution Centres Plc (MegaMedx), an indigenous pharma healthcare distribution and supply-chain platform, recently announced and flagged off a wealth creation and financing platform for community pharmacists in Nigeria. The first phase, otherwise known as the pilot, is providing a wallet credit of one million naira each to 40 community pharmacists to enable them make purchases of pharmaceutical products and expand their businesses.
In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, the Managing Director of MegaMedx, Pharm. Adekola Wojuola, explains the vision of the company. He also sheds more light on the Mega Wallet Credit Scheme as well as the ‘Just In time’ concept. Excerpts:
Can you tell us about the vision of MegaMedx and how it plans to impact the Nigerian pharmaceutical space?
The passion of the Mega Healthcare Distribution Centres Plc. is the development of the pharmacy profession in Nigeria. Our vision is very straightforward – we want to enable and enhance the genuine stakeholders in the pharma distribution chain. We want to add value to them. We will enhance them with wealth, trainings and everything that will make the genuine stakeholders to be able to own that sector effectively. That is our vision.
How have you deployed your resources in carrying along the community pharmacists in Nigeria, especially to make them buy into your vision?
As I said, the vision is very big. We have a pan-Nigeria vision and we have started this journey from Lagos. Last year, we had hundreds of interactions – I mean face-to-face, mails, Facebook, webinars and so on.
We have had a lot of interactions with community pharmacists. Every single month, we sponsor a webinar that is run all the way from the University of South Florida to train community pharmacists and I must say that just recently we got a commendation letter from the PSN chairman, Lagos State. He commended us for the sizeable portion of the investment we have made to make sure that pharmacists are being trained on disease management, vaccines, formula development, inventory management and so on. We have been on this for five consecutive months now.
We have also invested a whole lot of money into developing a platform whereby community pharmacists can go in, place their orders and get them just in time. It took a whole lot of resources to get that done. We have also launched the Mega Wallet Credit Scheme where the community pharmacist can get up to a million naira to trade and then return just a small amount of interest.
Tell us more about the Mega Wallet Credit Scheme
We know that credit, when given under the right conditions and to credit-worthy individuals, is actually an agent of economic development. You are aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria is giving loans to the health sector but pharmacists have not been able to access it and so, what we have done as a company is to make sure that, with all these monies running around, we are able to pull some money together and make sure that the community pharmacist is enabled to buy his products in a just – in -time manner. And right there on the platform, he is able to pay for the purchase.
Instead of out of pocket, it is now out of wallet. That wallet has been credited and it is gradually debited as the card is being used. Every first day of the next month, it is topped up and the cycle just continues, as long as these monies are returned in compliance with the conditions.
Eventually, our goal is that a community pharmacist that has just one outlet today could earn a profit of 3.5 million naira by the end of the year. We have demonstrated this financial model and in two years, the pharmacist was able to save up enough money to open another outlet.
The more pharmacies that belong to pharmacists, the more we are able to protect that space and ensure that the drug industry in Nigeria is being run by professionals.
Are there any constraints you are facing as a group in actualising your vision?
You know that everything new has its own challenges. This is an online platform and the average medical practitioner might not be too comfortable using the online platform for ordering products. Some of us are already using Jumia and some other Apps but some have serious reservations about the use of online platforms.
However, what we have been able to see in the last one month is that this inertia of people adopting a new way of doing things can be overcome. If you cannot get online, you can send your orders through emails or call our representatives and business development managers or our customer service representatives. We are all here to help you. We run monthly webinars where we do demonstrate how you can use the platform.
Your company keeps talking about universal best practice. How do you intend to apply this principle in rewriting the story of the Nigerian pharmaceutical space?
Anything that is not global best practice can only run for a short while. The reason is that the world has become a global village. Nothing is done in isolation. For example, the United States election is so popular in Nigeria because everybody is following global trends with the help of technology.
International best practice implies that a pharmacist does not have to order cartons and cartons of drugs because a pharmacy is not a warehouse. There is a concept we call “Just In Time”. This concept is used in eateries where they have estimates of foods they are supposed to sell in a day. This is a way to avoid wastage. Order what you need today, today and leave tomorrow’s needs for tomorrow. What we are trying to do is to improve the practice of community pharmacy in Nigeria.
What areas in the Nigerian health sector do you think government needs to fix for better service delivery?
I would say that there are many weak points but I would like to focus on pharma distribution. It is one of the weakest points. Sustainable development goals 2030 has seen the whole world coming to agree on a 17-point agenda which is supposed to touch every of the 7 billion people living on this earth.
There is a plan to make sure that the world is a better place by 2030. The number 3 of these goals is “health for all”. Under this goal, one of the themes is “Developing more partnerships and accountable institutions”. We have to institutionalise the distribution of drugs in Nigeria. I appreciate the fact that the government is doing a lot in that regard. The national drug distribution guideline is already making efforts to take away the scourge of markets everywhere and entrench an orderly way of allowing products come into Nigeria. As they come into Nigeria, we know where they are going and at the end of the day, we can track every single pack of drug being distributed in the country.
In a nutshell, what culture is Mega Healthcare Distribution Centres Plc trying to entrench in the Nigerian pharmaceutical industry?
The culture we are trying to entrench is the culture of excellence; the culture of doing things with the right intent and the right approach. We are in business to develop the Nigerian community pharmacist and that has been our goal right from day one.
If the pharmacist is not developed, some other people who are not trained to do this job would hijack the space and it would be very sad if we are not able to get a regulated practice. The more we entrench excellent ways of doing things, the more we employ and develop our people and the more we use technology, which is the process to drive what we want to achieve.