UNIZIK graduates 118 Pharmacists

By Franklin Onwubiko

In her sustained drive in contributing excellence to the Health sector, the Nnamdi Azikiwe University through the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, on Saturday18th September, 2021 released a total of 116 brand new pharmacists to the Health sector and the world at large, the highest ever, totaling 765 since the inception of the Faculty.

The induction/oath taking ceremony of the 2019/2020 graduands which was organized by the Faculty under the Deanship of Prof. Festus B. C Okoye in conjunction with the Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria (PCN), held at the JUHEL Auditorium at the Agulu campus of the institution.

Addressing the graduands, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Charles Esimone, FAS emphasized on the essence of the oath-taking/induction. According to him, “While the oath-taking is to extract from the inductees their commitment to abide by the ethics of the profession as encapsulated in the oath, the induction lectures are geared towards initiating the inductees into the world of professional practice by interrogating some challenges they may encounter and how to find the way forward.”

Speaking on the theme, “Career paths for Young Pharmacists; Transcending Traditional Barriers”, Prof. Esimone who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu, averred that it captures the extant challenging labour market milieu noting that ready-made jobs are no longer available in the public and private sectors even for professionals. He maintained that the situation demands creativity and an ability to think out-of-the-box.

Congratulating the inductees on completing their first phase of training as professionals, the PCN Registrar, Pharm. N.A.E Mohammed reminded them of the need to pass the Pre-Registration Examination (PEP) for Pharmacists after internships to be eligible to practice in Nigeria maintaining that PEP is a quality assurance tool aimed at strengthening standards in line with global best practices.

Acknowledging the challenges posed to Pharmacists by the dynamics of practice, technological advancements, drug resistance, Pharm. Mohammed stated that the PCN has institutionalized the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme to ensure continued relevance of Pharmacists in the scheme of events in the health sector and governance in general.

On ethical practice, the PCN Registrar noted that it is expected of them to get acquainted with Code of Professional Ethics which prescribes the professional and moral responsibilities to patients, Pharmacist colleagues, other health professionals, employers and the general public. He further encouraged them to explore the research aspect of Pharmacy practice as this area has become a focal point bearing in mind the urgent need to develop effective drugs and vaccines for COVID-19.

Earlier in his address, the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Okoye revealed that the number successfully cleared for the induction is the highest ever since the Faculty’s inception. Prof. Okoye disclosed that theirs is the first Faculty in the country to commence the Pharmacy degree program, obtain both PCN and NUC accreditation and graduate students without losing any academic session. According to him, “Since inception, we have moved from six departments to 8 departments. Although, the two additional departments are still at the postgraduate level, we are working seriously to commence undergraduate programe in Forensic sciences and inLogistics and Supply Chain Management.

“We also have plans of creating additional departments viz. Pharmacy Management, Pharmaceutical Technology, and Industrial Pharmacy within the shortest possible time. In addition, we are working towards expansion into two faculties, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Faculty of Pharmacy, which will eventually pave way to upgrade to College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and, God’s willing, the First University of Pharmacy in Nigeria.

“Currently, we are working on delivering on the mandate given by the PCN for full migration to the PharmD program. We have had our NUC resource verification on PharmD and we are very hopeful for a positive outcome. By God’s grace, our 100 level undergraduate Pharmacy students for 2021/2022 academic session will be admitted into our 6-year PharmD Programme. We have set all machinery in place for a robust PharmD programme”.

On the theme of the induction, the Dean described it as apt and timely since much is expected from the younger pharmacists to bring the needed paradigm shift that will change the current narrative in the healthcare profession.

Delivering the keynote address, the founder and CEO of KAYHELT Pharmaltd, Sir Pharm. Bankole Ezebuilo urged the inductees to invest in themselves, honour commitments and integrity and draw strength and guidance from God through the course of practice. Pharm Ezebuilo listed career opportunities for young pharmacists to include Pharmacists in the Industry – Medical rep, Production pharmacists, Pharmacists in the Academia, Community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist, pharmacists in Govt/NGO’s; Pharmacist in other works of life – communication industry, banking and Business.

Congratulating the graduands, the Chairman of the Induction Planning Committee, Pharm (Mrs.) Lizette Ezenekwe tasked them to shine the light and become good ambassadors of the institution.

In his valedictory speech, the overall Best Graduating student of the set, Dr. Pharm. Oluebube Alphonsus Okoye expressed gratitude to the institution that had molded them into achieving their lofty dream of becoming pharmacists.

High point of the occasion were presentation of awards and prizes to deserving students and staff of the Faculty.