PSN seeks media participation to curb drug abuse

President and Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Ahmed I. Yakasai


*Partners BASF West Africa on ‘Young Female Pharmacist of the Year’ Award

To mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and improve quality of drug abuse reporting, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has partnered the media so as to curtail the adverse effect associated with substance abuse.

Substance abuse, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome, a cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use that typically include a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences.

President, PSN, Ahmed Yakasai, at a training workshop on drug abuse and misuse in Lagos, said media has an increasingly important role in public campaigns due to its wide reach and ability to influence behaviour. “There is urgent need to use the full power of the same media to educate and enable Nigerian Youth to shun substance abuse and illicit drugs,” he noted.

Yakasai stated that the workshop represents a capacity building exercise to enhance and improve the reporting skills of pressmen especially those in the print and new media. “We fully understand that there is significant evidence that careful planned mass media campaigns can reduce substance abuse by countering false perceptions. Media messages have a deep impact on the society and policy makers and are instrumental in creating popular accepted norms. The media ensures quick and easy flow of information and education,” the PSN boss said.

He noted that Pharmacists are actively engaged to see policy changes and enhanced regulations and legislations that will enhance the distribution, sale, control and use of pharmaceutical drugs of abuse. He continued: “This year’s theme is, ‘Listen First – Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.’ In 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

“It is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment in the well-being of children and youth, their families and their communities.”

Meanwhile, Yakasai has inaugurated committee of the 2018 – BASF West Africa – The ‘Young Female Pharmacist of the Year’ Award.Yakasai said the ‘Young Female Pharmacist of the Year’ award is designed to elevate standards and contribute to the development of local female talent in technical fields.He said the Award also demonstrates BASF’s dedication to female education and empowerment

This pioneering awards programme is an open and competitive process, open only to female pharmacists between the ages of 25 – 35 years old who are registered in Nigeria. Applicants can be drawn from manufacturing, academia and/or public research institutes and they may be nominated or elect to apply themselves.

BASF West Africa Ltd is a construction chemicals production facility was opened in Lagos in order to serve the West African market. Industry portfolios represented in the African region include chemicals, plastics, dispersions, agricultural products, nutrition, oil and gas. BASF products are used for industrial applications in a variety of sectors including paper, packaging, leather, detergents, cosmetics, construction, mining, agriculture and automotive industries.

Speaking at the inauguration of the awards programme with the committee who have taken on the responsibility of validating and assessing the entries, the Managing Director of BASF West Africa, Dr. Jean – Marc Ricca, said: “This awards program will serve as an incentive for innovation and scientific excellence in Nigeria, as we honour women who have shown exceptional commitment and have made extraordinary achievements in their scientific fields. In the same vein, we hope to contribute our own quota to the achievement of Sustainability Development Goals 4 and 5 which relate to quality education and gender equality respectively.”

Meanwhile, Yakasai explained that in Nigeria, the issue of drug abuse has reached unprecedented level across all the geopolitical zones of the country. Nevertheless, the PSN and her technical groups, PNS-Narcotics and Drug Abuse Committee as well as state branches across the country have been educating people on the dangers of drug abuse.

“We have also called the attention of the government and other stakeholders to this menace. We believe that with utmost commitment from all stakeholders, we can reduce drug abuse to the lowest ebb in Nigeria. Our focus should be more on prevention of drug abuse as well as treatment of drug addiction in various parts of the country,” he stated.

The PSN boss revealed despite the challenges inherent in tackling drug abuse and illicit trafficking, they hope and believe they are on the right path, and that together we can implement a coordinated, comprehensive and result-oriented approach that leads to sustainable solutions.

Registrar, Pharmacist Council of Nigeria (PCN), Elijah Mohammed said the initiative is a laudable because it is aimed at engaging men and women of the fourth estate of the realm for effective disseminating of information.Mohammed stated that substance abuse and misuse has been a sensitive issue on the front burner of the Nigerian discourse for a long time now, but it has been the PSN to its credit that heightened the tempo of the rising concern, leading to the Government taking the very drastic actions we have witnessed in the last few months.

The registrar explained that blocking the supply Source, demand reduction through public education, social re-orientation and moral or ethical regeneration could help curtail demand of drugs and reduce the effects significantly. “It is therefore paramount for us to have a good drug distribution system that can guarantee safe, efficacious and affordable medicines across all levels of health care delivery in Nigeria. For a long time, our drug distribution system in Nigeria has been in shambles and disarray due mainly to poor regulation occasioned by absence of political will by successive Governments at the centre,” he said.

Mohammed continued: “PSN has been in the forefront of the public enlightenment and education on the issues of drug abuse, misuse, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), fake, counterfeit or falsified medicines as well as a credible drug distribution system in Nigeria.”Head of Human Resources BASF West Africa for Market Area Africa, Ms. Sharmila Govind, applauded this initiative as it is one that speaks closely to the rewards and recognition scheme of BASF. According to her, “I am very excited about this because the topic of women in leadership is one close to my heart. With this kind of initiative, I hope we see more women step in to the limelight and grow in their careers.”

Yakasai expressed delight at this intervention from BASF and encouraged all the members of the societal body to make the most of this opportunity. He also implored BASF West Africa to make this an annual awards program to ensure more opportunities and exposure for young female pharmacists. He requested the selection committee, led by Prof. Mbang Femi-Oyewo, MFR, former deputy vice chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University and Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN), to discharge its duties judiciously and present candidates the society will be proud of.The finalists will be announced and awards will be presented at the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria’s Annual Conference which happens in October 2018.

In this article:
Ahmed YakasaiPSN
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