The Jewel City of Gombe State,played host to who is who in the pharmaceutical industry, Community Pharmacists, Clinical, academic and other pharmaceutical professionals with stakeholders from all walks of life gathered at the historic Gombe International Conference Centre, Bauchi Road, Gombe State for the 96th Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).
The 5-day conference was held from 30th October to 4th November, 2023, with a theme; “Pharmaceutical Practice: A Pivot to Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria
In His welcome address, the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharmacist Professor Cyril Odianose Usifoh FPSN, who structured his address on three major contemporary issues, namely; impending doom and collapse of regulated drug supply chain, drug revolving fund needed for sustainable redress and Infusing renewed energy into pharmacy education for an impactful future, appreciated the government and good people of Gombe State for the warm welcome accorded to the Pharmaceutical society of Nigeria and its members, the gesture he described as uncommon, maintaining that it will go a long way in the minds of pharmacists making the post conference a huge success.
Usifoh said he was encouraged by the level of commitment from the state government under the leadership of Governor Inuwa Yahaya, expressing readiness to partner with the state in the fight against drug abuse and other related crimes to ensure a healthy society.
The governor of Gombe State, His Excellency, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, CON while declaring the conference open said that his administration’s is ready to partner with Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN towards actualizing his administration’s ultimate target of providing quality healthcare services for all citizens of the State.
The governor further said that his administration recognised the significance role pharmacy and other medical professionals play in healthcare delivery, which is the reason the government is committed to fostering an environment where pharmacists and other medical professionals can thrive and make meaningful impacts, promising continued support and increased investment in their professional development in Gombe state.
He described the theme for the conference as not only apt but timely, adding that the aim of the conference is in line with the President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda and his administration’s policies and programmes which are geared towards ensuring universal health coverage in the state.
Lamenting on the acute shortage of health professionals including pharmacists in the country, Inuwa noted that, “the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 1 pharmacist per 2,000 people. Nigeria today has only 1 pharmacist per 12,000 people , thus highlighting the enormous gap in our healthcare sector. This is exacerbated by the brain-drain syndrome where qualified pharmacists and other medical professionals are fleeing the country on a daily basis in search for greener pastures abroad. Sadly, this gap is being filled by quacks and pseudo-professionals whose activities endanger the health and wellbeing of our people”, he lamented.
Speaking further, the governor however said his government is making concerted efforts to address this problem through the training of pharmacists at the Gombe State University, which is the largest producer of Pharmacists in the state.
In his words ““Our administration shall continue to support the university in training qualified and highly skilled professionals for our health sector and beyond.
“Recently, our administration established the Drugs and Medical Supplies Management Agency in order to standardize drug administration and ensure safe and effective use of drugs. This, together with the Gombe State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency (Go-Health) and other medical institutions, are providing the enabling environment for pharmacy professionals to contribute in the realization of universal health coverage in Gombe State”.
He expressed his government readiness to collaborate with the professional body towards providing access to safe, affordable, and effective medications and healthcare services for all citizens in Gombe State. “There is the need for collaboration between the Gombe State Government and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in this regard. Together, we can address the challenges that the healthcare sector faces, such as ensuring the availability of essential medicines, tackling counterfeit drugs, and improving healthcare infrastructure in our state.
“I am using this opportunity to express our willingness to partner with pharmaceutical companies to set up pharmaceutical businesses in Gombe State. This will help towards unlocking local opportunities, ensure self-sufficiency in the production of medical consumables, and promote domestic innovation in the medical and pharmaceutical fields”, he added.
He further noted that the second Gombe State Investment Summit will provide a platform to showcase the numerous investment potentials in Gombe State which could be leveraged by the Pharmaceutical Industries especially the 1000-hectare Muhammadu Buhari Industrial Park where many local and foreign companies have already indicated interests to open shops.
He expressed confidence that the government and good people of Gombe State would benefit from this year’s conference. “Considering the calibre of participants in this conference, I have no doubt that your deliberations and recommendations will go a long way in shaping government policies and programmes that will positively impact the wellbeing of our people”, he noted.
The Deputy Governor of Gombe State, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau presented a keynote address at the occasion.
Also in his remarks, the Chairman of the opening ceremony of the conference, His Royal Highness, Igwe Orano Chris Chidume applauded governor Inuwa Yahya’s remarkable achievements in governance which transformed Gombe to a model state. I specifically cherished the peace, harmony and enduring environment prevailing in Gombe State courtesy of Governor Inuwa’s sterling leadership”, he said.