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Group seeks policy framework, passage of Pharmacy bill to ensure drug, health security

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*Obi of Onitsha, Ayodele Teriba to grace first virtual public lecture of BOF/PSN

Members of the National Executive Committee of the Board of Fellows (BOF) of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have called for the establishment of a policy framework in the country and speedy passage of the Pharmacy Bill by the National Assembly to ensure drug and health security.

They said the new Pharmacy bill that would also repeal the Pharmacy Decree of 1992, would change the practice of the profession, check quackery, and accelerate the country’s capacity to produce vaccines as well as create employment opportunities for practitioners and stakeholders.

Chairman, BOF of PSN, Prof. Mbang Nyong Femi-Oyewo, yesterday, during its mid-year meeting, said: “As a profession, we play a key role in the economy of Nigeria. The pharmaceutical industry and indeed pharmacists contribute to the country’s revenue through our products and services to the entire healthcare. Policy framework- that will ensure development of drug and health security must be in place. As Fellows and elders of the profession, we need to understand this and consciously take up this responsibility.

“The current global challenges threw all countries off balance including Nigeria and other African countries. It exposed our lack of preparedness and inadequacies in all sectors- healthcare/drug security, education, social, business, economy and even governance in some places- during the crisis. COVID-19 was indeed a health emergency, which required immediate pharmaceutical revolution.

“When passed into law, the Pharmacy bill would improve all aspects of the profession and help develop the country’s capacity to produce World Health Organisation (WHO)-certified facilities, medicines and vaccines especially for COVID-19.”

Femi-Oyewo said the following questions needed to be addressed: Do we have policy framework for national development in Nigeria? How solid is the policy framework? What policy framework must we put in place for national development amidst current global challenges and in the future? How will the policy framework ensure security in all sectors of national development in Nigeria such as economy, drug/health, food, and business- security? Whither Nigeria? Where are we as a nation?

The professor of pharmacy and first female Chairman of BOF/PSN said the mid-year meeting of the Board is the most important event as it affords the Fellows an opportunity to examine the positions of the group, the PSN and the profession and strategise for better positioning. She said it is also time to participate in national discourse and make contributions.

Femi-Oyewo said the Board, through her mandate, promotes lectures on issues of contemporary importance within and outside the profession of pharmacy. In this regard, she said, the Board will on Saturday, September 19, 2020, from 11am to 2.30pm, hold its first virtual public lecture tagged 2020 BOF, PSN- Mid-Year Lecture, which is the Board’s Second Public Lecture.

The professor of pharmacy said Dr. Ayodele Teriba, an economist and Chief Executive Officer of Economic Associates Lagos shall deliver this year’s BOF Public Lecture with theme: “Policy Framework For National Development Amidst Current Global Challenges: Whither Nigeria?”

She said the Chairman of the Public Lecture is His Royal Highness Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha. “It is a public lecture- So members of the public are all invited including pharmaceutical groups, non pharmaceutical groups, captains of industry, professionals, those in governance, regulatory bodies, economists, strategic planners and the media. The event will be in all our social media handles- on Zoom, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, all at @boardoffellows_psn,” Femi-Oyewo said.

The professor of pharmacy said the BOF also has a mid-year virtual meeting for all Fellows on Saturday, September 26, 2020. She said the BOF still has its project- Campaign against drug and substance abuse.

The pharmacist said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to spike in mental health issues such as depression and consequently rise in drug and substance abuse.

She explained: “It is no longer news that the incidence of drug/substance abuse in Nigeria has assumed an epidemic dimension especially among children/adolescents and youths, which calls for widespread intervention.

“As you are aware, pharmacists are custodians of medicines, which include drugs, vaccines and biological. It has therefore become very necessary for the BOF to get involved in checkmating this menace through advocacy, campaign against drug abuse and rehabilitation of victims of drug abuse.

Remember our children and youths are our future and harbinger of progress. They must- think wise, act smart and say no to drugs.”

Chairman of the BOF/PSN 2020 Mid-Year Meeting Planning Committee, Lekan Asuni, said: “The BOF was founded in 1972 with an initial membership of 20. The founding fathers designed it to be a body of men and women of distinction and integrity, who would interface with the policy makers and opinion shapers for the advancement of the pharmacy profession. Within the profession, the BOF acts as a modulating and stabilizing factor”

Secretary of BOF/PSN, Rosemary Nikoro, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world and indeed the human race to a standstill and lockdown with unprecedented challenges and consequences on our nations, communities, businesses/economy and our way of life. This has resulted in a new normal of doing things differently; frequent washing of hands, hand sanitization and wearing of masks and virtual meetings among others.”


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