Attaining Medicine Security In Nigeria

Chioma Umeha

L-R: former Chairman PSN, Lagos Branch. Pharm. Gbenga Olubowale, immediate past President of PSN, Ahmed Yakasai, CEO of Lefas Pharmaceuticals Pharm Lekan Asuni.

The concept of drug safety has become a major attention since the past decade because of the important roles it play in patients’ health.
In view of this, there is growing concern among experts on how to achieve drug safety in daily medical practice, particularly with regard to approving new medication or questioning the possibility of withdrawing a drug from the market.
This is particularly so in Nigeria and a major reason Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, the immediate past President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) gave for unveiling safe medicine foundation (SFM), weekend.
He stressed that his aim is to sustain the fight against fake and falsified drugs in the country.
Elaborating on this at an occasion which was a sendforth dinner organised for him by friends and associates in Lagos, Yakasai said, “It really hurts to see fake or substandard and falsified products circulating in our country maiming innocent citizens.”
The august ceremony also featured the launch of Yakasai’s book, “The Power of Advocacy” which chronicled his achievements in office as PSN President from 2015 to 2018.
DAILY INDEPENDENT investigations show that as the President of the professional body, he undertook various initiatives aimed at creating awareness about the prevalence of drug abuse especially among youths.
The former PSN boss therefore set up the foundation alongside Dr. (Pharm) Ifeanyi Okechukwu and Dr. Chimezie Anyakora as a “go-to resource that can help consumers, healthcare professionals, law enforcement agencies, policy makers and the government navigate the increasing complex and dangerous world of substandard and falsified medicines.”
Yakasai explained that the foundation would, among others raise public awareness of the harms to consumer safety caused by substandard and falsified fake medicines and advocate for policies and programmes that will improve patient safety.
Yakasai said, “So together, let’s make a positive impact and rescue our people and it can be you or me as a victim. Improving safe access to essential medicines is crucial in tackling ill-health and reducing infant and maternal mortality rate, which, sadly is very high in our country.
“As we all know, essential medicines save lives and improve health when they are available, affordable, of assured quality and properly used. Hence, our citizens around the nooks and crannies of Nigeria deserve access to safe, standard, efficacious and cost-effective medicines.”
“You can hear all that they are saying that I have done a lot in health care sector, I really didn’t know, though, I used the healthcare platform to unveil the Safe Medicine Foundation. It is a foundation that I just founded to continue fighting fake drugs and drug abuse in our country because it is threatening in our country, society and even our individual health.”
Meanwhile, friends and associates of Yakasai  seized the opportunity to celebrate his positive impact and contribution to the growth of the society.
The occasion with theme, ‘Celebration of Excellence,’ attracted the presence of major stakeholders in the health and pharmaceutical sector.
It also provided opportunity for discussing on how to achieve medicine security in Nigeria and win the war against counterfeit medicines.
Dr. Fidelis Ayebae, Chairman of the event and Managing Director/CEO of Fidson Healthcare PLC, hailed the initiative which he said would be supported by all pharmaceutical stakeholders.
Contributing, Pharmacist Olumide Akintayo, former PSN President, warned against self-medication especially in Nigeria where people have unlimited access to medicines.
“This is a country where we have well over two, three million premises where people sell medicines and probably less than 30,000 out-patient medicine stores,” he said.
“Ahmed certainly has made foot print in the sand of time, he will certainly be numbered as one of the legends in the leadership bracket of the society and it very significant that some of his friends and associate have put this together,” Akintayo added.
Commenting, Olumuyiwa Odusote, a former Nigeria Medical Association, Lagos Chapter, said, “Ibrahim has established a good working relationship and we looking towards ensuring that we have lasting peace in the health sector.
“We are also committed to ensuring that we return to the good old days in the health sector where everybody is a brother and sister to one another.”
Similarly, Remi Adeseun, said,  “The first thing you will notice is that Yakasai puts the profession ahead of himself and he ensures that all he did is on the singular focus of lifting the profession and boosting the status of the pharmaceutical industry.”
With various degree in pharmacy, research and social media marketing from the Ahmadu Bello University, University of Southford, Manchester, UK, Yakasai is an accomplished pharmacist and the immediate past president of PSN from 2015 to 2018  and has served the country in various capacity.
He is also an honorary Consul General of Pakistan in Nigeria and now a ‘General’ of the Safe Medicine Foundation.