Pharm. (Alh.) Olufemi Ismail Adebayo is a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and former national chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) from 2012 to 2015. In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Adebayo, who is the current coordinator, Board Of Fellows (BOF), PSN, Osun State, speaks on the state of pharmacy practice in Osun and beyond, his tenure as ACPN leader, his views on his successors and the impacts of COVID-19. Excerpts:
As a stakeholder in the pharmacy practice in the country, how do you see pharmacy practice today, compared to when you started?
Pharmacy profession is advancing to the glory of God. During our own days, when we were much younger, it used to be analogue, but everything has now turned digital. Especially with the emergence of COVID-19, we now have online meetings, online marketing, online purchasing and others.
I think the pharmacy profession is also falling in line. In fact, it was the advent of technology that made it possible for us to hold the just concluded hybrid PSN national conference in Osogbo, Osun State. So, you will agree with me that the profession is moving with time, and gone are the days when everything used to be analogue.
Today, with technology, buyers may not necessarily have to travel several miles before accessing our products, which is an improvement on how it was before.
As somebody who is based in Osun State, what is your assessment of community pharmacy practice there?
We are happy that we don’t have open drug markets here in Osun, and thanks to the government for that. I also want to appreciate the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), and the Pharmaceutical Inspectorate Committee (PIC), for the wonderful job they are doing in the state.
The PIC has been working as a group to rid the state of illegal premises, and by virtue of that, there is a level of sanity as far as pharmacy practice is concerned in the state, as against what is obtainable in some states. It is not that the state is hundred per cent free of illegal premises and charlatans, but to a great extent, pharmacy practice is having it good here.
Are there challenges peculiar to practising in Osun State?
We cannot rule out challenges completely, as there is bound to be one. Some of the challenges, just like we have it everywhere else, include; medical practitioners doing the job of prescriber and dispenser at the same time, the health insurance schemes at both state and national level not carrying the pharmacists along, as well as charlatans competing with the professionals.
You were the ACPN national chairman six years ago, would you say you are satisfied with the ACPN you left in 2015?
I am highly impressed with the state of ACPN today, compared to how I left it six years ago, and I must commend my immediate successor, Dr Albert Kelong Alkali, for building on the structure that we had on ground. I must also appreciate the person that took over from him too, Dr Samuel Adekola, for not letting the guards down.
One of my dreams for the ACPN was to have a building of our own, but because of the financial status of the association then, we couldn’t realise it. Still, we were able to save some amount of money for that purpose, with the intention that the incoming administration would continue from there. And truly to our expectation, the tenure of Dr Alkali realised that dream by purchasing, renovating and commissioning a building in a prime area of Opebi, in Ikeja.
I also want to commend his own successor too, in the person of Pharm. Samuel Adekola for sustaining the tempo and for bringing the association to limelight. You would recall that when I was the chairman, we did a lot in the aspect of publicity and projecting the image of the association. The media partnership we had with Pharmanews especially was strategic and it yielded positive results.
Likewise, the current administration has been doing a lot, and it gives me joy that the structure we had then has been built on and sustained. In fact, the current leadership has been able to acquire an official car for the association, which is an additional improvement.
Moving forward, if you are to advise the current crop of leadership of the ACPN, what would you say?
Dissemination of information is very key, and if people don’t have adequate information as and when due, it gives rooms for rumour-mongering among members and when this happens, it may cause misunderstandings, and even good ideas may be misrepresented.
I want to also advise them to consult wide before taking any decision, so that everybody would be on the same page. If they consult wide, irrespective of the distance – Rivers, Kano, Jigawa and others – there would be one voice. Even though some may still have objections, the majority would have been carried along, which is better for the growth of the profession and the association. It is necessary that we have good dissemination of information and it should be done at the appropriate time.
What is your advice to the young ones who want to go into community practice?
My advice is, whatever one is doing, do it well. Also, consistency is what wins the race; so they should be consistent, make themselves known, and they should know what they are doing. They should not go beyond their boundary; they should make referrals, if there is need for it.