There are two things that the blind does not need a guide to decipher; they include the taste of saltless soup and the beauty of the 95th Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), held in Jos.
Tagged “Tin City 2022”, the conference, with the theme, “Medicine Security in an Unstable Economy” and the subtheme, “Stemming the Misuse and Abuse of Essential Medicines in a Depressed “Economy”, saw bigwigs in the field of Pharmacy, of Nigerian descent, from all parts of the world, deliberating the way out of Nigeria’s health woes.
The conference saw the training of pharmacists on vaccination and life supports’ emergency, through the combined effort of the National Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA), led by Dr Teresa Isichei-Pounds, and the Director of Trans-Generational Foundation, Dr Samuel Adekola, as part of the preliminary events.
Pharmacists were engaged in sporting events and exercises prior to the opening ceremony, including golf championship, football match and fitness walk, led by the president of the society and his wife, Pharm. (Prof.) Cyril Odianose and Asso. Prof. (Pharm.) Stella Usifoh.
The governor of Plateau state, Rt Hon. (Barr.) Simon Bako Lalong, CON, and his wife Mrs Regina Lalong were all out to welcome the “men of honour”, as Prof. Usifoh set record in his first national conference, as the PSN president.
Though the conference started on October 31, the opening ceremony held the next day, November 1, with numerous dignitaries in attendance; the governor, represented by his deputy, Prof. Sonny Gwanle Tyoden, performed the opening ceremony.
In his keynote address, the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), (Pharm.) Dr Obi Peter Adigwe, urged the government to invest in local manufacture of drugs, as that is Nigeria’s area of comparative advantage.
PSN President thanked the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari, for the enactment of the Pharmacy Council Act 2022, signed on August 16, while calling on the government to do all it can to stem the tide of brain drain hitting the country.
In his remarks and response, the Minister of Health, Prof. Ehanire Osagie, who spoke through Prof. Pokop Bupwatda, the Chief Medical Director, Jos University Teaching Hospital, assured pharmacists that the government will do all it can to ensure that the country’s pharma sector remains competitive in Africa and the world.
In her goodwill message, the Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharm. (Prof.) Mojisola Adeyeye, who spoke through the Director, Pharmaco-Vigilance and Post-Marketing Surveillance of the NAFDAC, stated that medicine security implies that people have access to quality drugs, despite their sociocultural bounds; she noted that the agency implements that to the letter.
The Director General, Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency, Pharm. (Dr) Samuel Oghene Etatuvie, who was represented by his Technical Adviser on Research, Planning and Innovation, Pharm. Daniel Suwe, stressed that pharmacists need to come into the business of natural medicine, as the agency has perfected the plans of working with pharmacists, adding that over 60% of the practitioners, at present, are not pharmacists.
The Vice President, International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and President, African Pharmaceutical Forum (APF), Dr Prosper Hiag, while thanking Prof. Usifoh, for inviting him to the conference, noted that the PSN is a pillar of support to the APF.
The special guest of honour and Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd), who spoke through the secretary of the agency, Barr. Shadrach Usman Haruna, to mark the beginning of the plenary, stressed that about 14 million Nigerians between ages of 15 and 65 are reportedly involved in drug abuse, while highlighting how pharmacists could help to solve the problem.
The President, West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacy, Prof. Cecilia Igwilo, who spoke through the college’s General-Secretary, Prof. Ibrahim Oreagba, enjoined pharmacists to embrace specialization, as the era of general practice is long gone.
The Conference Planning Committee Chairman, Pharm. Victor Adekanye, while thanking all for their participation in the conference urged everyone to fully maximise all that have been made available, ranging from tourism, recreational, sports and cultural facilities.
The President, Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA), Dr Teresa Isichei-Pounds, while noting that the organization is a part and parcel of the PSN, added that it will continually support the healthcare service in Nigeria.
The Plateau State Branch Chairman of the PSN, Pharm. Kaneng Pam, expressed her profound gratitude to the governor, who supported the hosting of the event under her administration.
The College of Past Presidents, led by Prince Julius Adelusi, expressed satisfaction over the conference, as the conference had held in Jos 27 years earlier; Pharm. Muhammad Buda spoke on their behalf.
It was a moment of fiesta and feasts as different technical and interest groups of the PSN had special and ample time for deliberations and planning, while lecture series were also held for the general house.
One of such meetings was that of the Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria (CPAN), headed by Pharm. (Dr) Joseph Madu, where the launch of International Pharmacy Residency Programme in Nigeria was announced.
The Nigerian Association of Pharmacists in the Academia (NAPA) led by Dr Ezekiel Olugbenga Akinkunmi held their meeting too; one of the major topics of discourse in their forum was the retirement hitting many of their members.
Ahead of the plenary sessions, the CPC Chairman, Pharm. Adekanye, MAW, urged the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS) to participate in every aspect of the conference as it would aid their studies.
Several other interest groups held their meetings including, the Association of Lady Pharmacists, led by Pharm. Scholastica Mnena Lan, where a new Assistant National Secretary was elected, Pharm. Vera Abba.
The Young Pharmacists Group held theirs too, it was an opportunity for Prof. Usifoh to admonish them on the need to be more proactive in their life decision as they are at the stage of risk taking; the leader of the group is Pharm. Ethel Bassey Mba, Dr Isichei-Pounds also pledged to help them grow.
There were lots of plenary and lecture series, as the Lady Pharmacists launched their multipurpose cooperative, led by Pharm. Rose Aghaeme; there was also a session for the Ultra Logistics Company and its shareholders, under the chairmanship of Pharm. Adesanmi Popoola; the company was established to promote easy and efficient quality drugs and other pharmaceuticals’ delivery.
There was a session for Nigeria’s presidential candidates; the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Nigeria, Mr Peter Obi, while pledging partnership with pharmacists, stated that his administration will ensure that the nation gets to the point of exporting food and pharmaceuticals, as production will increase; he spoke through his campaign director in Plateau state, Dr Nanzing Bako.
The standard-bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who spoke through the party’s governorship aspirant in Plateau state, Dr Nentawe Yilwatda, noted that pharmacists are precise in finding the root of a problem, while narrating a personal experience.
The candidate of the New Nigeria People’s party, Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, speaking through the gubernatorial candidate of his party in Plateau state, Pastor (Dr) Alfred Dafwan, vowed that his administration will ensure that medicine is secured and quality drugs made available for all.
The candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, observed that the country, at present, is sick and needs urgent treatment, adding that if pharmacists are not treated right, they will be discouraged to work for the health of the nation.
The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prince Adewole Adebayo, noted that the demands of pharmacists are not for themselves, instead for the overall wellbeing of the country, promising that his government will work with “the men of honour”.
While appreciating the presidential candidates and representatives who turned up for the event, Prof. Usifoh stressed that the society is apolitical and is willing to work with the eventual winner, while adding that pharmacists and other stakeholders need to know the plans of the aspirants for the health sector to avert possible danger, should there be similar occurrence as the pandemic in future, as he handed the Pharmacists’ Charter of Demands to them; he had earlier presented Pharmacists’ Resolutions to the governor of Plateau state.
The men of honour were also treated to cultural night, dinner and banquet night, to justify the saying that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, with all dance styles and generational music, as a pharmacist turned rapper was unveiled.
The closing banquet was memorable as the governor of Gombe state, Alh. Inuwa Yahaya, was in attendance, as the chairman, represented by his Senior Special Adviser on Health, Alh. Dahiru Kara; several awards were presented too.
Gombe will play host to the 2023 edition of the conference; cultural troupe from the state were at the closing banquet to entertain the guests, just as their Plateau state counterparts had previously done; several dignitaries were also in attendance.
All who were at the Tin City 2022 have continued to praise the conference, which they have continued to describe as the best national conference so far.
Some of the people who spoke to CEOAFRICA on the conference include past president of the NAPPSA, Dr Anthony Ikeme, the president-elect of the group, Pharm. Emelue Chukwumaeze Ezirim.
Others whose joy of attending the conference knows no bounds include Pharms Ike Onyechi, Nkemdilim Oguneji, Tina Aletu, Thomas Omotayo a director of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, Bridget Aladi, Eze Ambrose, the National Vice President and the National Secretary, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN).
The immediate past chairman of the ACPN, Dr Samuel Adekola has not hidden his commendation for the conference as well.
Many pharmaceutical industries were also around to add to the side attractions through exhibitions and raffle draws; one of the representatives of the various industries noted that the Tin City 2022 was the most organized conference, as their various stands were well-arranged, for ease of identification.
In addition, they noted that it was the first time a president of the PSN would personally visit them at the exhibition stands to interact with them; they also had first ever dinner with PSN President in the history of the PSN conference.
All these and more lay more credence to the fact that the future is bright for the society under Prof Usifoh, as it is said that the taste of faeces is known from the stench of the fart; being his first conference as the president, he has shown the capacity he has and what the society should expect.
Prof. USifoh, promised that subsequent ones would make this present swan a mere crow; the conference ended on November 5, with the handover of baton to Gombe state branch of the PSN, as they will be hosting the men of honour in the next edition, Commissioner for Health, Dr Nimkong Lar-Ndam, represented Gov. Lalong at the closing banquet.