ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF NIGERIA (PSN), PHARM. AHMED I. YAKASAI, FPSN, FNAPharm, FNIM, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 89TH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE PSN HELD AT HON. JUSTICE IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, MINNA, NIGER STATE ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH 2016.
It is my pleasure and honour to welcome you to the Opening Ceremony of the 89th Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria. We thank God for journey mercies for all of us gathered who have travelled from across international and national borders. Our theme for this 2016 conference is Pharmaceutical Industry Contributions to National Development. With your august presence and the wealth of programme of events put together by this year’s able and effective CPC and LOC, I am assured that we are going to experience one of the most remarkable and impactful conference of our time.
We cannot walk through the next valuable days without acute cognition of our current contexts, as they influence and impact our profession, industry and nation. We are facing one of the most challenging economic climates ever witnessed, alongside increasing anxieties about disease outbreaks and rising poverty. As an industry, we have a risk exposure of approximately 70% of medicines that we manufacture, market, use, and dispense, mostly becoming near inaccessible due to an unprecedented highly priced US Dollar. These are dynamics that must be reversed if our industry is to stay afloat and we are to stay true to the fundamental vision and ethos of ensuring access to medicine by our growing population.
We must also recognize that despite our estimated operational value of over $2b, our industry is yet to be a notable contribution to our nation’s GDP. The complexities of our demography – substantial ageing alongside a youthful population within an estimated over 180 million people with complex disease profiles – are indications of the need for us to revisit our practice model and industry positioning. All these are situated in a non sophisticated health economy and systems. Our pharmacy profession and industry appear to be catching the flu just with a few sneezes by our social and economic environments. We sure need some remedy and fast.
In the midst of all these, our immediate constituency – the patients and citizens who must always come first – are expecting us to remain noble and true to our professional cause. Our population wants us to reinforce quality over profit. Our society continues to nudge us to champion “drug security”. Our nation challenges us to continue the focus on improving health outcomes. As we relish in these clarion calls, my reflections suggest that we may already have the right answers. It could be that what we need to start doing is asking the right questions.
As professionals, I opine that we can contribute to the current national questions and that will wade us through this dilemma-ridden times is to remain true to our values. Values are what will sustain and ensure our relevance at such a time as this. By values, I am not referring to the cheesy phrases that we sometimes paste on our offices wall that fill up the space and still look vacuous and empty. Values, in this context, for us as pharmacists, must be behaviors that are devoid of abstracts but pregnant with qualities of action that enable us to freely choose to do what is right. It is that which guide rather than constrain our everyday professional actions and choices.
It will be those characters that will run through our new and renewed thoughts as has been captured in our PSN Strategy document that we will lunch after this conference. These values will be our refreshed and renewed sets of pointers, road maps and signposts that will assist our profession to make decisions that match the way we should practice going forward, one that says that we must be in touch with the things that matter to us, things that matter to our patients and indeed things that matter to our country Nigeria. They are what will make us firm and resolute as we negotiate new and existing relationships with other professionals and even sections within our own industry, when choices and decisions need to be made.
Our health profile as a nation is far from being healthy. This calls on us pharmacists to be part of the solution. It is high time, for us to respond with the speed and positive gait. This will require us to be open to the dynamics of new communities that are rapidly shaped by unfettered new [social] media that now inform and instruct our social constructs and wellbeing. The key question for us to reflect on is ‘where thou pharmacy’ in all these?
Data is now available in abundance just as the ability to unpack valid information is in decline. Such a dichotomy is important as they are the powerful forces of and for change in our world and particularly our practice that is people facing. We now co-exist and practice pharmacy in a society where digitization is changing behaviors, business models, consumer expectations and everything – in real terms. This digital disruption is existentially powerful and it is having major impact across all professional sectors. Our choice therefore is either to embrace it and maximize it for pharmaceutical practice and business or we can remain scared by it – noting what Napster did for music, what Uber did for Taxi services and what Amazon did to retailers. Whatever choice we make, like many things, life will no longer be simple, as contents and creativity are now democratized, just as health services will also be at some stage soon.
We do have tensions building – as we will co-exist in a society where consumers who are increasingly frustrated and also spoiled by the simplicity of a Google search bar with access to everything in one place will require us to deliver our pharmaceutical services in different formats and space.
As pharmacists therefore, we need to embrace this reality now as all these changes allow newer approach to our practice in new ways. Everything in our professional practice should now be assessed with a future focused lens. Therefore, everyone one of us in this auditorium should be thinking about how we do new things and do things new. As scientists, we need to confront these unprecedented complexities, driven by new communities, changing social constructs, competition, globalization and technology among other forces. With these comes the need for us pharmacists to be agile and be able to adapt and flourish in changing circumstances. The truth is that a profession can never be truly agile unless the people who work within it are agile – and more specifically, professionally agile.
To be relevant in this new world, pharmacy practice need to be tolerant of ambiguity, remain clear-headed and relationship oriented, by being collaborative and innovative, as environmental complexities drive us to do the opposite. When things get intense as they are now, we often fall back on old stories about who we believe ourselves to be. Rather, what we need to do is consistently and consciously updates our inner professional narratives in much the same way that we update our résumés. Some stuff from way back simply needs to be left behind because they will no longer reflect our values or who we are as pharmacists in today’s world.
To prepare us for this new and emerging world therefore, I will argue that we need a new approach and a new professional philosophy. This I will describe as “Pharmacentricism”. “Pharmacentricism” captures a new ideology of pharmaceutical practice and it is defined by a new approach to how we view and explicate what we stand for as pharmacists and what we project as professionals. Pharmacentricism will require that we have to start to navigate our social, economic and professional worlds in different and new ways, guided by our professional lens and knowledge, with citizens and patients as our core focus and at the center of all we do.
“Pharmacentricism” requires that we start to know how to gain critical insight about our professional and environmental contexts, situations and interactions and use this knowledge to adapt and align our values and actions and make changes to bring the best of our profession forward. “Pharmacentricism” suggests that we develop emotional agilities and intelligence that enable us to navigate global challenges that are thrown at us with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness and strategic strands. This new philosophy is not about ignoring difficult issues and thoughts that we have to tackle. Some examples of these are rampant Substandard, Spurious, Falsely Labelled, Falsified, and Counterfeit (SSFFC), limited numbers of qualified pharmacists to ensure we have community and clinical pharmacy at the heart of primary and secondary health care, implementing National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) in 2017 and reversing the trend of poor access to medicines.
To address these and more, the choice of values over need will be the instrument to employ and the fluid to oil our approach. It will require that we hold all those issues and challenges firmly in sight, facing them courageously and compassionately and then moving past them to ignite positive changes in our person, profession and our nation Nigeria.
It is when we connect professional values with the things that are important and join hands as men of honor; it is then that we can be geared to face the challenges that are enveloping us. When we do this, Nigerian pharmacists and our industry will be geared to be part of the solutions to current challenges as we retain our relevance in the future.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, before I end my speech, I must seize this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to God who makes good things possible. To His glory I can confirm to you that the Pharm. D Programme is now approved by the NUC. Recall that this programme had been canvassed since 1999 when the AGM of PSN approved it in Enugu. Successive leaderships of PSN took progressive turns to actualize the Pharm. D. dream.
Incidentally, the immediate Past President and NEC, PCN, NAPPSA and NAPharm who worked assiduously on the Pharm D concept like others had struck an agreement to have a Pharm D stakeholder’s workshop on November 23, 2015. It turned out this was my first official duty to coordinate as President of PSN.
Now that this is approved, I enjoin all the faculties of pharmacy to brace up for this challenge in the collective bid to improve our service to consumers of health.
Our resolve to institutionalize world class pharmacy practice which embellishes Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) commences with the Pharm. D approval.
The various pharmacy schools must send more of their staff to specialize in Clinical Pharmacy models which will be adaptable for home grown initiatives.
Towards this end the PSN will continue to provide the buffer and other cataclysmic templates to promote productive interactions, with diaspora pharmacists who can assist us to move this ideal to the next level.
In line with the disposition of the new National Executive Committee (NEC) to innovate we are already thinking of how to mobilize specific stakeholders to establish new Faculties of Pharmacy in the country like we have seen in some other countries.
We shall also begin serious efforts akin to moving Pharmacy practice in Nigeria to next levels begin a series of initiatives that will give birth to a National Postgraduate College of Pharmacy. We shall keep you informed as these various efforts begin to yield dividends.
Also in adding value to patients and productive health sector, we are working very hard in actualizing the consultancy cadre in public sector. Thank you Niger State Government for been the first to recognize the consultancy cadre.
Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in consonance with its philosophy of Corporate Social Responsibility feels compelled to partner with the Federal Government in making life better for our citizens who are in various IDPs camps around the nation.
This is actually a consolidation of our previous efforts in 2015 when we donated relief items including clothing, food and medicines worth about N50Million to the Borno State Government through its Ministry of Health.
A sense of responsibility demands that we must support the noble administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which is championing a new agenda to promote the welfare of the citizenry in Nigeria.
Towards this end, the PSN is donating medicines worth N50Million through His Excellency the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Lastly, may I use this opportunity to appeal for the reconstitution of the Boards of NAFDAC, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development and indeed the implementation of National Health Act.
Finally, I must continue to thank all our esteemed Guests especially the Special Guest of Honour and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, SAN, the Chief Host and His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, and our Guests of Honour, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR, the Honourable Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, FAS, Royal Fathers, the Keynote Address Speaker, Pharm. Olu Akanmu, NAPharm, Senior Vice President(Retail Banking), FCMB Plc and all dignitaries who have honoured us with their presence. My gratitude also goes to our esteemed Sponsors, Exhibitors, Central Planning Committee, Local Organising Committee and the entire membership of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Niger State.
I want to thank you gentlemen of the press for your traditional support to PSN in its pursuit of sound ideals for healthcare in Nigeria.
Thank you for listening and God bless Nigeria.
PHARM. AHMED I. YAKASAI, FPSN, FNAPharm, FNIM