*THE ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT, PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF NIGERIA AT THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION/ INVESTITURE OF FELLOWS CEREMONY, JANUARY 24, 2019*
B. I wish to thank God for this extra-ordinary privilege to be here today. I feel very honored to share the company of this array of very distinguished Guests. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to Nigerian Pharmacists who have found me worthy to be bestowed with this honour of serving as President of our great society at this time. By this time last year, I had no inkling that I would be standing before this distinguished audience to formally assume this role. But according to the scriptures, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven”. I thank God for bringing this season and let me say that I am very thankful to those God used in diverse ways to usher in the season.
*C*. The Pharmaceutical society of Nigeria (PSN) is 92 years old, making it one of the oldest professional associations in Nigeria. Before me, 19 other Pharmacists have held forth as Presidents of our great Society. Some of these are here today to lend their support to me. These men (Yes Men, for in PSN we are all Men of honour!) have labored to confront the challenges of their times and they have collectively built the Society up to this enviable stage. Mr Chairman, May I request those of these great men who are here to please stand up to receive our applause and appreciation.
*D.* Challenges of our Time: Despite some recent improvements, Nigeria’s healthcare statistics remain unimpressive: Maternal mortality (821 per 100000 life births), under- 5 mortality (100 per 1000 life birth). We have failed to eradicate Poliomyelitis and our people are being needlessly killed by cerebrospinal meningitis and Lassa Fever. Malaria continues to ravage us. Life expectancy at 54 though shows improvement is still too low compared to India’s 68. Our healthcare professionals seem to spend more time quarreling with government, squabbling among themselves and going on strike than they spend caring for Nigerian patients or seeking new ways to prevent or treat diseases.
One major troubled area of healthcare delivery today is the sanctity of the drug supply chain. This sanctity has been broken, admitting all kinds of miscreants and interlopers visiting mayhem on Nigerian drug consumers. Many people who should have no business handling drugs have become purveyors. Drugs that are controlled have now become freely available. The result is the current high rate of misuse, abuse and resultant morbidities and mortalities. The role of the Pharmacist as the custodian of drugs has been compromised by the actions and inactions of the government and its agencies, and what see are the consequences. Today, Nigerians can get their drugs from open market stalls, in intra-city buses, in kiosks and even now in bars and night clubs without care for temperature or humidity. Despite the best efforts of NAFDAC, the incidence of fake drugs remains high and many Patients and drug users have been despatched to early death because of unauthorized access and use. Have we wondered why the increase in drug resistance and failures and the rise in end organ diseases particularly kidneys?
*E*. Our Call: Our essential mission is to work with governments, colleague healthcare professionals and all men of goodwill in the Country to bring sanctity to the Pharmaceutical space. Nigerians must be made to understand that Drugs are two-edged swords that can HEAL or KILL, depending on usage. They are not just mere items of commerce as some ‘traders’ see them! The central place of the professional Pharmacist as the safe-guard who ensures that drugs only heal, with minimum potential to cause harm must now be given greater focus, be better recognized and more competitively rewarded. To assure this, it is our vision to enthrone a drug supply system that will link every tablet, every milliliter of syrup, and every ampoule of injection taken or administered to a patient in Nigeria to a Pharmacist. Which is to say that Pharmacists must now be obligated to take full responsibility for every single medicine produced or imported into the country and must monitor its movement until after it is consumed and intended outcome achieved. We must ring-fence the system. That is the way to protect the integrity of medicines and ensure that Nigerian drug consumers get the best out of their prescribed or recommended medicines. It thus becomes imperative that we must strengthen drug control laws and empower the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the National Agency for Food & Drugs Administration and control (NAFDAC). Perhaps the most critical step right now if for Mr President to sign the new Pharmacy Council of Nigeria bill, enacted by the National Assembly into law. That will sign post the avowed commitment of the government to sanitize the pharmaceutical space. Henceforth, We will ensure that no Nigerian takes any medication without the advice or counsel of the Pharmacist- directly or indirectly, hence the increased professional focus on Pharmacare and clinical Pharmacy.
Critical to the accomplishment of this critical mission is a working healthcare system. We offer to work with the Ministries of Health and our sister healthcare professional groups to remake a healthcare team that will be united in undiluted focus on the utmost well-being of the patient and restore confidence on Nigeria’s healthcare system. We must get Nigerians believe they can get globally competitive healthcare in Nigeria and reduce the embarrassingly high level of medical tourism out of Nigeria.
We are pleased that the Federal Government has taken the issues of disorderly drug distribution and drug abuse seriously hence it has enacted the National Drug Distribution Guidelines and empaneled Presidential committees. The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria will work with these committees and all other committees, agencies (local and international) and all organizations that are aimed at bringing sanity to drug availability and utilization in Nigeria and in our region. As Custodians of medicines, experts in all drug matters and principal stakeholders in the Pharmaceutical space in Nigeria, we promise to support National Health and drug policies and ensure full implementation of these policies especially as it relates to increased reliance on locally produced medicines and the eradication of drug faking, drug misuse and drug abuse.
*F.* Our Projects, our Appeal: Mr. Chairman, Your excellencies, very distinguished guests, fellows of our distinguished Society (old and new), colleagues, Friends, ladies and gentlemen, permit me to close this inaugural address by making a request of you. Presidential inauguration is once in a life-time opportunity, kindly allow me to maximize my opportunity. Our 92 year old Society is still struggling to complete our Pharmacy House in Nigeria’s Capital City- ABUJA. For over ten years we have been applying our internally generated resources-essentially levies to fund this 500 million Naira project. Take a look at where we are going and see where we are today. The FCT authorities have warned that we do not have all the time to keep going at this snail speed. Therefore giving all that we desire to accomplish for Pharmacy, for Nigeria’s healthcare and the Nigerian People in my time as President, kindly indulge me as I humbly ask for your financial support to help us complete this building. Kindly use the paper being handed out to indicate your level of support. In return, we will mount a plague in the building listing all those who supported us to complete the project. In addition The Lord Himself will reward your sacrifice as He Has promised that those who water others will themselves be watered also.
*G. Conclusion:* Mr. Chairman, your excellencies, distinguished guests and colleagues. I want to thank you so much for making the sacrifice to be here today to usher me unto this new role. I know how busy many of our Guests are, many have interrupted their campaigns to be here. I truly and deeply appreciate this investment. It is my hope that the forthcoming elections will be Free, Fair and violence-free and that the Lord himself will choose our next set of truly God- fearing leaders at all levels and usher in a new a new season of Peace and enhanced economic growth that will result in higher quality of life for all NIGERIANS . And to achieve this, please join me in prayer that the God Lord will exorcise the demons at our gates that have held Nigeria down, preventing it from attaining it’s manifest destiny as a great Nation. In Jesus Name I have prayed.
Thank you so very much indeed. God bless you all.
*Pharm (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa OFR, MON, FPSN, FNAPharm, NPOM*
_President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria_
*January 24, 2019*