Almost three years after the introduction of ‘Doctor of Pharmacy’ degree in the country, only five out of the 20 faculties of pharmacy in Nigerian universities have been cleared by the National Universities Commission to run the programme.
The schools are University of Benin, Edo State; Bayero University, Kano; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Jos; and University of Ilorin.
In an e-mailed correspondence with PUNCH HealthWise, Registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, Mr. Elijah Mohammed, said the delay in starting PharmD in some universities was because there were processes that must be followed from the faculty to the university senate before an invitation could be extended to NUC for resource verification.
The PCN registrar refuted allegations that most pharmacy graduates holding a B.Pharm degree are reluctant to upgrade to PharmD.
“As a matter of fact, pharmacists with B.Pharm are eager to upgrade, as that would further enhance their clinical practice.
“That said, it is also not compulsory to upgrade, as B.Pharm is still an acceptable qualification for registration as pharmacist in Nigeria,” Mohammed added.
He noted there is a growing number of Nigerian pharmacists who trained abroad returning home with PharmD, thus making the degree more popular in the country.
However, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, said there was a problem.
“PharmD is a programme that takes longer time, more expenses and preparation on the part of both university and students. Meeting its provisions and minimum requirements usually takes time,” he told our Correspondent.
Ohuabunwa said the need to get skilled lecturers or preceptors was key to the success of such programme, warning, “Not every pharmacist can teach, hence the need to build up the scale of manpower development. We will have lecturers from different universities – PhD holders coming to do the conversion programme.”
Another challenge, Ohuabunwa said, borders on marketing of the programme to prospective students.
“Currently, it is mostly existing pharmacists with B.Pharm that are turning up for the PharmD conversion programme. We need new students to undergo the six-year programme.
“It is not easy to get candidates who want to spend too many years in the university today. The character of most young people is to finish early and head towards fields like banking, information technology and others.
“Getting the aggregate number of students is an issue,” he lamented.
He also noted that there were issues with acceptability of the programme.
“Acceptability is another challenge I see here. These students are not yet clear about the additional benefits of this new investment. They don’t have an assurance yet as to where they will land.”
Ohuabunwa said if the efforts to get the consultancy cadre for products of the postgraduate college and PharmD holders succeeds, it will encourage both the existing pharmacists with B.Pharm degree and fresh admission seekers to opt for the six-year course.
“These are the issues that are making PharmD look like it is slow. The important thing for new ideas is to start. As earlier mentioned, the benefits for the individual are not crystal clear, that is why the attraction is not yet high.
“When PharmD is eventually made the minimum qualification, you will see a higher level of awareness. At this stage, those who want to go for PharmD must convince themselves that it is worth the effort,” he said further.
It may be recalled that since the launch of the first PharmD programme at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1955, several countries had adopted it, and Nigeria was the eighth African country to formally adopt the programme.
In 1992, the Federal Ministry of Health, through the then Pharmacists Board of Nigeria, sponsored deans of pharmacy faculties across the country on a study tour of pharmacy schools in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
The essence was to keep abreast of advancement and changes in pharmacy practice worldwide.
The outcome of the tour and the recommendation of Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas encouraged the PCN to write the NUC on the need to introduce a six-year Doctor of Pharmacy programme in Nigerian universities.
Consequently, the NUC approved the PharmD programme to take effect from the 2016/2017 academic session, with the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin, as the pioneer.
Source: The Punch Newspaper