Specialisation will boost relevance of pharmacists
– PANS-OAU president
Funmbi Okoya is president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria
Students (PANS), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) chapter. In this
exclusive interview with Pharmanews, the 500 level pharmacy student
discusses the achievements of his administration, while also suggesting
ways to improve pharmacy education in Nigeria. Excerpts:
How would you assess pharmacy profession in Nigeria?
Pharmacy profession is one that is indispensable anywhere in the
world due to the important roles pharmacists play in the health
sector. In Nigeria, the profession is advancing, though a lot of work
still has to be done to ensure that the profession reaches the heights
expected of it. I believe this can be achieved through the unity of all
for the betterment of the profession.
Can you tell us some of your plans for the association within the next one
year as PANS-OAU president?
Knowing that my tenure will soon be over, only a few important
programmes and projects are yet to be executed. So far, PANS-OAU
has been able to make giant strides, which will redefine and enhance
the growth of the association. First of all, the association has
successfully launched its official website – www.pansoau.org – which
will further expose us to the world at large, while serving several
Secondly, PANS-OAU was represented at the just concluded PANS
National Convention at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), by 41
delegates, which is the highest in recent years by a great margin. In
addition to that, PANS-OAU now has two additional PANS national
executives, who are the IPSF contact person, Mustapha Abdul-Afeez
and the Deputy Editor-In-Chief, Zone A, Gloria Agboola.
Also of great importance is the fact that the constitution of the
association is currently under review, and plans are in place for the
reviewed version to be published as a handbook, for the first time in
the 43 years of existence of PANS-OAU. It must however be said that
the shortening of the semesters in this session has been a thorn in the
flesh, as it has forced us to review our plans and programmes to
ensure that we don’t overload the session and that our academics
remain our primary focus.
How have you been coping with funding?
Yes, I agree that funds are essential in the execution of programmes
and projects, and as such must be available when needed. Aside from
membership dues, individual donations and corporate sponsorship
have been at the core of our fund-raising activities over the years.
Also, PANS-OAU annual publication, “PHARMATEL” and our website,
www.pansoau.org, are both available for adverts placement.
However, it would have been better if PANS-OAU had a steady means
of generating funds. To address this, it is my vision to set up a fixed
account with a substantial amount, the interest of which will be
available to each administration for years to come.
What grey areas in the pharmacy profession do you think the
Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and stakeholders in the profession
need to address urgently?’
As a profession of high repute and relevance, the profession has to get
popular among the general public, not just within the health sector.
People have to understand the roles of pharmacists and consider them
distinct from other health care professionals. The younger ones also
have to be well-informed about the profession as early as possible, so
that the bright minds in the country will continue to be interested in
the profession. This will help secure the future of the profession for
years to come.
What, in your own opinion, are the major challenges facing pharmacy
education in Nigeria?
First is the curriculum for pharmacists-in-training. I personally think
Industrial Training should be a part of every curriculum as it is vital
for the students to gain the necessary practical experience outside the
classroom. This is why I’m in full support of the Pharm.D programme
that is more clinically-oriented. However, it is yet to be fully
implemented and recognised.
Secondly, the issue of insufficient internship placements is a growing
concern. Quite a number of recent graduates have had delays due to
inadequate internship placements. If an internship of one year is to be
made compulsory for all graduates of pharmacy school, which I
believe is good for the profession, then these placements have to be
available for these persons.
Also, I believe continuing education through specialisation will
improve the relevance of pharmacists, particularly in the hospital
setting. Specialisation in the pharmacy profession will further enforce
our position as drug experts as pharmacists would be unequalled in
the knowledge of drugs in specific areas.
What are those things you think government can do to improve the
standard of pharmacy education in Nigeria?
I think the most important resource needed for quality education is
qualified tutors which we do not lack in Nigeria. However, our tutors
still need to have facilities at their disposal, which is fundamental in
giving quality education. These facilities need to be provided and
maintained by the government.
The government will also do well to better remunerate lecturers and
teachers, not just pharmacists, who give their all in ensuring that the
standard doesn’t fall. It is saddening that their efforts are not
recognized, as they should, and this has resulted in a lack of
Where do you see PANS by the time you will be handing over?
PANS OAU is already at a higher level than it was before my tenure,
and I know that with the plans we have in place, PANS OAU is going
to ascend even greater heights.
What is your message to pharmacy students across the country?
I’d like to encourage my colleagues in pharmacy schools that the
profession has a very bright future and so we should have a lot in
confidence in it. Our chosen profession is a noble one, and as such, we
should strive to represent the profession in the best way possible.