Pharmacists are medication experts whose eventual aim is to care about the health of their patients and lead them to full recovery. And so the most important goal of pharmaceutical care is to accomplish positive results from the use of medication which improves the quality of life of every patient with minimum risk.
Pharmacists by their professional calling are dedicated to ensuring that disease is cured, symptoms are either eliminated or substantially reduced, an ailment is arrested or at worse its process slowed down. Also, the pharmacist is saddled with the responsibility of preventing disease, diagnosing disease as well as altering physiological processes for desirable result in the patient’s health.
All over the world the pharmacist is known to be about the most accessible (health) professional both formally and informally – and charging no (extra) fees for their services. This much was alluded to by the Chairman of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Albert Kelong Alkali sometime ago. Thus Pharmacists are committed professionals who are uniquely prepared, and they readily make themselves available, rendering public service. They are therefore so well positioned to achieving the above stated goals.
But both the private and public health service in Nigeria are still very far from realising all of these gains; there is no structure in place to enable society tap fully into the benefits of having these professionals in our midst. They are unable to maximally play out their role as pharmacists. In that pharmacists play an important role in the healthcare system through the drugs and information they dish out, coupled with their friendly disposition, they are uniquely positioned to help speed up the process of attaining wellness.
Although responsibilities vary among the different areas of pharmacy practice, the vital issue here is that pharmacists facilitate patients’ state of wellbeing. Pharmacists carry out their activities almost in every area and specialties in healthcare, but because many at times these services are carried out behind the scenes and therefore not obvious to the public eye, we do not seem to be able to fully comprehend their level of input let alone come to terms with the overall value of these group of professionals.
The Pharmacists are proudly the medication expert on the healthcare team, and so they are highly indispensable in all aspects of healthcare. As such they are responsible for a range of care for patients. For example, the pharmacist leads in dispensing drugs to patients; they are supposed to monitor how the patient’s health is progressing, and also ensure that patients get the maximum benefits and positive response to medication therapies. In Nigeria however, the situation has not yet been ‘uhuru’; the skills, services and potentials of the pharmacist are not being fully tapped or given free rein to fully manifest especially in our public healthcare service.
Perhaps the pharmacists will fully come into their own when they are able to practice as consultants; maybe then their full potentials will come to bloom. In a media chat with Dr. Albert Kelong Alkali, he hinted that there is a federal government gazette that has already put paid to the debate about that matter. He said “the issue of consultant pharmacists has been settled…”
“It has been approved by the head of service of the federation, and that means that there is a white paper on that. As we speak, I am a consultant pharmacist; I did my fellowship in Production and quality assurance …,” he added.
Pharmacists by their training and nature take delight in educating patients, and they do it thoroughly – on the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. While they are on this, they are also making available population based care as carried out from the various healthcare institutions. Thus they are involved in educating and advising physicians, nurses, as well as other health professionals on decision taking in drug administration.
Expert opinion rests with the pharmacist who has the complete know-how about drug compositions. This involves knowledge of the chemical composition of medicaments, as well as their biological and physical properties and their manufacture and application. They make sure of the purity and strength of the medicine you are taking, and guard against incidents of harmful drug interaction in any way. What with a full blown meningitis epidemic on our hands; will all hands be put on deck? To maximise the role of the pharmacist in public healthcare, perhaps it is morning yet on creation day.