By: Stephen G. Fellajuah
The World Pharmacists Day Speaker, Dr. Innocent Ibegbunam, has challenged pharmacists in Liberia to leave their comfort zone in the Ministry of Health and public service institutions, and dare to try the private sector and political space of Liberia, saying that the national elections are coming up in 2023; and it is his hope that some pharmacists will throw their hats in the ring for elective offices.
Dr. Ibegbunam made the statement when he spoke Monday, September 26, at program marking the World Pharmacists Day, held in the conference hall of the Ministry of Health in Congo Town, when he delivered the key note of the program.
Event commemorating activity of the Day began with a parade from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex under the theme: “Pharmacy united in action for a healthier world”. Also, the event brought together government officials, WHO, USAID, and several medical professionals from diverse background, among others.
Delivering his keynote, he added that the private sector practice with the international and national non-governmental organizations and other areas of private sector practice are up for grabs as these areas need professional expertise of pharmacists, administrators, and managers to move forward health service delivery in Liberia. Please do dare to take on this challenge to change the face of the profession in Liberia while supporting health practice in Liberia in general, he expressed.
Dr. Innocent Ibegbunam, who is the Country Director, Liberia Chemonics International, Inc. USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program, with delight termed the celebration as a step in the right direction and at the same time called on the different strata of the pharmacy professional practice to play their roles in promoting the image of the profession in Liberia and in serving the general public.
To the academia, he said they should continue to do their best in recruiting and training the best human resource to further boost the human capacity for pharmacy practice in Liberia, adding that academia also has more work to do in ensuring that appropriate guidance counseling are provided to the students in training in selecting appropriate area of professional practice upon graduation and dedicating themselves to it.
“I call on the leadership of the pharmacy school to occasionally send out message to their graduated students, reminding them of their trainings, need to maintain minimum ethical standard in professional practice while asking them how they are doing in deploying the skills acquired to improve the image of the profession and support humanity.
I call on the pharmacists practicing in public health supply chain to continue to be forthright in ensuring that appropriate pharmaceuticals are selected, quantified, procured, stored and distributed to health facilities for service delivery. Supply chain information system that should continue to inform these decisions should be rigorously reviewed to minimize risks of shortages and expiries within Liberia.”, he said
He continued that the use of accurate and timely data, with the aid of advances in technology that should be deployed at the lowest levels, for informed decision making should be at the core of the health supply chain practices with touch of excellence by the pharmacists within the space. Focus on personal gains should not drive our decisions in support of the health supply chain system in Liberia.
Dr. Ibegbunam said for pharmacists in community practice and hospitals, the care of the patient should be at the center of our practice. Ensuring that they accurately interpret prescriptions and also provide feedback to professional colleagues on their prescription pattern, courteously and professionally, should be a core component of our professional practice. The interest of the patient should be at the center of our practice and not profit for the institution or our personal gains.
While speaking he further mentioned that for other professional colleagues at the gathering, the medical doctors, nurses, medical laboratory scientists, physician assistants, nutritionist, and other health experts. He urged them to tap into the knowledge of the pharmacists around them on appropriate medicine use and challenge them to take on the responsibility of providing them with up-to-date information on anything related to medicines and medicine use in all settings.
He went further and said to his pharmacist colleagues, in political, administrative and leadership positions, including himself, that they are beacon of hope for the profession and the next generation of pharmacists look up to them for guidance. As you continue to discharge your leadership role, please do remember the impact of your actions and/or inactions on the overall image of pharmacy profession, he added.
Additionally, he highlighted and pointed out that let the ‘sleeping giants’ in Liberian Pharmacists wake up and take their pride of place as professionals in promoting public health, assist other health professionals, and patients who depend on them to have update to date information on medicines and medicinal products for a holistic pharmaceutical intervention in Liberia.
The celebration of this day is an opportunity to promote the pharmacy profession beyond dispensing or sale of medicines, but as a professional practice that has the interest of the patients at its core. It is also an opportunity to continue to highlight the central role that pharmacists, as professionals, play in the healthcare delivery value chain in the interest of the patients and for the general public health service provision at national and global level, according to Dr. Ibegbunam.
In remarks, A. Vaifee Tulay, the deputy minister for Planning and Research Development at the Ministry of Health, salutes Pharmacists for the enormous contributions they have made to the heath sector over the years, as he expressed that in the not too distance future Liberia will be in par with the globally.
He encouraged Pharmacists to engage the Ministry of Health authority with their concerns in the proper manner for redress than to engage in act that will undermine corporation between them, saying the MOH is on the right trajectory to continue to have fruitful engagement for the progress of Pharmacists.
“I urge the Pharmacists to protect the odd at all times by protecting the patients from the harm of drugs”, the deputy minister emphasized further.
Giving the overview earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Pharmaceutical Board, Dr. Menmon P. Z. Dinah, said the day was set aside by the World Pharmaceutical in 1912, to support Pharmacists and the work they do worldwide. He said the program held on Monday aimed to promote pharmaceutical practices globally and to appreciate Pharmacists and the positive impact.
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