Pharmacists have been asked to embrace the opportunities in traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) to enable Nigeria achieve universal healthcare coverage. A foremost practitioner of TCAM, Pharmacist Zainab Ujudud Shariff , said this while speaking on a panel at an event held on Saturday, 24 June 2023 in Abuja.
The event, the 4th Scientific Week and commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, was organised by the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria, Abuja Branch (AHAPN), in collaboration with Pharmaceutical Society Of Nigeria, Abuja Branch. Held at the National Centre for Women’s Development Auditorium (NCWD), the event featured a keynote speech and two engaging panel discussions.
During the first panel session, titled Traditional Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) in Contemporary Nigerian Hospital, Pharm Zainab Ujudud Shariff, explained the connection between traditional medicine and humans, stating that it is a medicine of the people that was given to them by God.
“Health is spiritual,” she stated, while encouraging pharmacists to explore the field of traditional medicine. She explained the different branches of traditional medicine including acupuncture, homeopathy, and more.
Another member of the panel, Pharm. Ene Daniel-Ebune, a policy advocacy expert and Fellow of the West Africa Postgraduate College of Pharmacists, who coordinates the engagement of Public Health Projects/Programmes at the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, disclosed that during Mandatory Continuing Professional Development programmes, pharmacists are likely to start getting introduced to traditional, alternative, and complementary medicines through the area of pharmacognosy, which they learnt as undergraduates.
The second panel, titled Drug Addiction in Health Workers, What is the Solution? had five panelists, including the Zonal Coordinator of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). A panelist, Dr Abubakar Danraka, a Senior Special Adviser Technical to the Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), highlighted some of the reasons behind drug abuse amongst health workers.
“Some of them feel that they have some form of immunity, and might not realise that they are hooked to drug abuse,” Dr Danraka, also the Abuja Zonal Coordinator of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP), Nigeria Chapter, said. He also blamed drug abuse among health workers on effect of the increasing workload due to the outward migration of health professionals like pharmacists have driven some of the health workers into drug abuse. A panelist suggested that effective communication must be used to correct this mindset of health workers.
The keynote Speaker, Pharm Ilupeju Thomas Omotayo, a Director and Head of Pharmacy Practice Department at the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, spoke on “Knowledge and Application of the National Controlled Medicines Policy (NCMO) by Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists”.
The 4th Scientific Week had abstract presentations of scientific papers, product presentations, and awards to distinguished members and supporters of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) Abuja Chapter. The theme is “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention”.
Earlier in her welcome remarks, the Chair of AHAPN in the Federal Capital Territory, Pharm. Hafsat Ismail, underscored the rationale for selecting the theme of the week marking the World Drug Day, saying, “Everyone could fall victim of drug abuse, and stigma only stops people from seeking help on time, which worsens the outcome.” In the words of Pharm Lilian N. Agwaza, Chair, event planning committee, the theme “helps us to focus more on both persons in the web and also preventing more persons from getting into the web.”
One of those who received awards aawas Mr Andrew Dodo Ndam, a former Director (Health Services) in the Kaduna State Ministry of Education. He has been providing services on the dangers of using psychoactive substances in schools and other institutions and villages for the past 25 years. He is the founder of the Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Centre, Kaduna.