Community pharmacists call for continuous learning, AI use

The Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria has challenged its members on continuous learning and the use of Artificial Intelligence to carry out pharmaceutical activities.

Speaking at the  two-day 2024 continuing education conference, titled, ‘Strengthening community pharmacy practice for universal health coverage,’ guest speaker, Dr Chibuzo Opara, said it was important for pharmacists to make learning a daily exercise to be able to provide the needed care for Nigerians

“There should be collaboration, and embrace information needed for objective policy reforms. Also, there should be a performance-based investment in continuous education and training. The person who learns will always be valuable. Learn, and make continuous learning more robust. As for Innovation, learn about AI technology. Drug discovery AI, innovator drugs, we should have a mindset of how our industry will evolve technologically. The use of drones in healthcare in Nigeria is an area of pharmacy that can transform your drug business. Pharmacy experiences should be re-invented. How do I learn to make my business the best collaboration with other pharmacists? Continuing education will help you to learn daily about everything needed and we can produce to care for our people.”

He also told the pharmacists to embrace their function of delivering primary healthcare functions.

Also speaking, Chairman ACPN, Mr Tolulope Ajayi, added that globally, the pharmacy profession was an integral part of the healthcare delivery system and had evolved over the years from the exclusive drug production and dispensing functions into the direct patient-centered practice model.

He said, “Many community pharmacists build competencies and acquire certifications in handling point of care testing, immunisation, and vaccination services backed by the task shifting and task sharing policy of the federal ministry of health and related policies. Many colleagues have also deepened their clinical and pharmaceutical care capacities through the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists.

“Given the vast training and evidence-based contributions of community pharmacists to improving health outcomes and the capacity to do more, the only option open to us is to intensify capacity-building efforts for community pharmacy practitioners in these areas.”

Chair, of the conference planning committee, Mrs Olaide Soetan, said the masterclasses would help equip community pharmacists to make interventions in the diagnosis and management of ailments before referring to the hospitals.

“Strengthening community pharmacy practice for universal health coverage,’ community pharmacists, arguably the most accessible healthcare providers, are uniquely positioned to make more impact and this conference aims to help them build the capacity to do so. The current wave of exodus of healthcare providers to greener pastures also underscores the need to act fast before we have a crisis in the healthcare sector.”

Dr Kemi Ogunyemi who represented the Lagos State Ministry of Health, said, “The government rates every health worker equally, we must make ourselves valuable, expand your territories, government cannot do it alone, make community pharmacists valuable.”

SOURCE: PUNCH

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