Pharm. Samuel Adekola is the incumbent National Vice Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists, and a contender for the position of the ACPN National Chairman. In this interview with PharmaTimes WAIRE EMONEFE, he talks about his decision to contest, and shares his take on various issues that concern community pharmacists.
What inspired your decision to contest for the position of the ACPN National Chairman?
I am inspired by the desire to serve. By the grace of God, I’ve constantly been an asset to every employer that I’ve served both directly and indirectly. I have always been a leader. I started leadership from class 3 where I was the class captain, to my days in the University of Ife, where I was the Representative for all the science students. I also served as the chairman for the NAIP group in Ondo State, and the Vice Chairman, and Chairman of PSN in Ondo State. All these culminated in my desire to be the National Chairman of ACPN.
One major challenge that community pharmacists face is the competition with Proprietary Patent Medicine Vendors (PPMVs). What strategies do you think ACPN can put in place to curb this issue?
First of all, I do not see Patent Medicine vendors as competitors when it comes to pharmacy. I only see them as opportunists, who have gotten their opportunity because community pharmacists could not exact themselves or show themselves for who they really are. I believe that what we need is to bring every community pharmacist to that place where they can thrive in spite of the number of patent medicine vendors around them. We would achieve by first putting in place Practice Standardisation. Once your practice stands out, these patent medicine vendors will never be able to compete with any community pharmacists. Another issue that we would have to tackle is achieving managerial and entrepreneurial skills in our community pharmacists, because we are inherently technical people.
They are a few of us that possess this managerial and entrepreneurial skill but we need to enhance this skill in other community pharmacists. Hence, we need to evolve a system that would provide the skills that community pharmacists lack. One of the ways we are doing this is by providing entrepreneurial skills to them through the holding company for ACPN, which is the Community Pharmacy Developing Company – also known as CPN Nexus, which has been incorporated. I was privileged to head the committee that birthed that vision under Dr. Alkali’s tenure. It is a non-profit organisation that will be acting as a holding company for all community pharmacists. This company will be providing community pharmacists with access to skill, both technical and managerial and access to resources and the market. These are three focal points of that initiative. Once we can achieve this, we would see that every community pharmacist will be able to thrive even in the face of aggressive competitors.
Availability and Accessibility of drugs is one major issue in Nigeria. While we recognise that the government has a huge role to play, as a community pharmacist that is seen as the last leg in the provision of healthcare service, what do you think can be done to improve this situation?
As far as health sector is concerned, the community pharmacist is the most accessible to the public in terms of provision of healthcare. As we hold this position of being really accessible to the people, we would continue to make what is in our possession which is drugs, available to the people. I believe the real issue is not how to make drugs more available but how to make more community pharmacists available. This is one of the targets of my vision. Today, we have barely five thousand community pharmacists in Nigeria. And according to W.H.O. standard we should have 200,000 community pharmacists in Nigeria. That is a grossly inadequate number of community pharmacists. We hope to create a structure that will enable us duplicate what we hope to see and achieve. Some of our colleagues like Bukky George have been able to record success and growth because they had a structure in place, and so it was easy to replicate their growth. There are many places to open pharmacies but if we lack the structure to manage it profitably, you will be unable to grow another one. So, we need to create a structure that will make it easy for us to replicate our success, and that is what we aim to do with the CPN Nexus initiative.
Considering the recently suspended JOHESU strike, what do you think can be done to end the rivalry, and strikes in the health sector?
I believe that what we need is commitment from the government. The government is the one that holds everyone together. It is our common denominator. So, if there will be crisis, it lies on government; if there will be no crisis it also lies on the government. I agree that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) is being unnecessarily unprofessional, but we can’t beg them to stop doing what they are doing. They are trying to protect their hegemony. However, we have the government, the one in the centre. It is the willingness of the government that comes to play in this issue. Does the government have the political will to say “this is what we will allow in our country, or not allow?” Instead, they do not show that they have the welfare of Nigerians at heart. Once we have a government that values the people of Nigeria, then the issue of crisis in the health sector will fizzle out naturally.
In one of your campaigns you stated that you hope to attain international standard for each community pharmacist. How do you hope to achieve this?
By God’s grace, I have been attending FIP for 9 years running. I have seen what is obtainable over there. I see what pharmacists do over there. So, I plan to make it happen here. I preach collaboration because it is the only way we can achieve our goals as community pharmacists. I have the ideas after being part of the FIP, and I will domesticate it.