Pharmacists Seek Creation of More Spaces for Pharmacy Interns

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Martins Ifijeh

Members of the newly elected National Executive Committee of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), led by the National Chairman, Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Amibor, have called for the creation of more spaces for interns.

Stating this during a courtesy call on the Registrar of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Elijah Mohammed, in his office in Abuja recently, Amibor said pharmacy graduates now roam the streets of Nigeria in search of nonexistent spaces for the mandatory one year internship, which has assumed a worrisome dimension in the recent past.

He said: “While we commend the PCN for authoring the document for central placement of interns, we wish to observe that the process has not commenced yet, resulting in untold hardship for graduates and parents alike, who are compelled to keep catering for their children and wards several years after leaving school.”

“We believe the PCN is in a position to enforce legislation that will compel industries and employers of labour in the country to absorb more interns in their various establishments for their training programme.

“The council should also bring pressure to bear on the management of tertiary and other health institutions to increase the number of internship slots for pharmacy and other interns from other disciplines.

“The council is also encouraged to increase the number of community pharmacies accredited to train pharmacy interns in their various community outlets.

“And of course, universities, research institutes and pharmaceutical industries should be allocated a minimum number of slots for internship placement.”

The association further urged the council to put her feet down as it concerns accreditation of healthcare institutions intending to establish pharmacy departments in their hospitals.

“What we are simply saying is that the PCN should put her feet down and insist on following specifications when it comes to inspection or accreditation of health care institutions, since pharmacy practice would be better off for it.

“Similarly, we are aware that most private hospitals in Nigeria do not have pharmacists in their employment. I had the privilege of visiting one such big private hospital, and asked for the pharmacist on duty, only to be told that the pharmacist does not work during the weekends. So who covers the pharmacy at such times?” I asked.

The registrar was also commended for the introduction of Online Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (MCPD) which according to Amibor, has definitely improved the efficiency of the learning process, thereby saving valuable time and resources for pharmacists, who before now had to travel long distances to participate in the programme in different states and zones of the country with the attendant risks.

Mohammed on his part said PCN was the first group to write for central placement of interns, but the process was hijacked. He said the council was deeply worried about the plight of fresh graduates and was weighing the various options before the council.

“One of such options is to treat the interns in the same way as they do corps members in which case they would be pulled out of the general salary structure, and placed on monthly allowances just like corps members,” he said.