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Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, December 2003; 2 (2): 195-196

© Pharmacotherapy Group,
Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin,
Benin City, Nigeria.
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The changing roles of pharmacists in hospital and

community pharmacy practice in Nigeria
The profession and practice of pharmacy did patient monitoring. In the 60s and 70s, the
not start in Nigeria as a well defined health roles mainly involved the supply and
care area of specialization as it is today. dispensing of medications, bulk compound-
Rather, pharmaceutical training was borne ing (especially of extemporaneous
from the necessity to provide assistance to preparations), administrative functions
expatriate medical officers. The genesis of (including care and custody of drugs, drug
pharmacy practice in Nigeria can be traced tendering and purchasing, record keeping
back to 1887 when Dr R Zacchaeus Bailey and accounting), and staff supervision and
opened a pharmacy shop for Europeans in management. In the 1980s, the need to
Lagos . During the colonial period, those ensure the availability of needed drugs in our
trained to handle drugs were called hospitals at affordable prices led to the
“dispensers”. Such dispensers functioned as interest of hospital pharmacists in the
dispensers of medicines, sanitary officers, manufacture of drugs within the hospital
medical aids and anaesthetists in operating system. The introduction and acceptance of
theatres . At that time, the development, and clinical pharmacy into the practice of
hence the role of the pharmacy professional, pharmacy in Nigeria in the 1980s led some
followed the pattern in other British colonies hospital pharmacists to be involved in clinical
and was in line with the developments in activities including drug information service
Britain . The need to import drugs on a large and unit dose dispensing. However, unlike
scale, which led to early development of the many developed countries, the involvement
wholesale drug trade, resulted in additional of pharmacists in Nigeria in the application of
role for the pharmacists. Since 1960, many the emerging roles has not been impressive.
develop-ments have taken place in the In a survey conducted in 2002, only 18.2%
education, legislations, and practice of of 119 pharmacists practicing in Nigeria
pharmacy in various areas including stated that they applied most of the 52
industries, hospitals and communities. suggested practice standards obtained from
round one discussion by the Delphi panel of
Today, the professional role of the pharmaceutical care experts in their
pharmacist in hospitals and community settings . Although pharmaceutical care has
pharmacies is changing from a focus on become a preferred mode of practice, most
preparation, dispensing and sale of pharmacists in Nigeria still hardly offer
medications to one in which pharmacists significant patient-oriented services.
assist the public to get the best possible
results from medications through patient After almost two decades, patient-oriented
education, physician consultation, and pharmacy practice in our hospitals and

195 Trop J Pharm Res, December 2003; 2 (2)

community pharmacies has suffered from Conclusion
poor staffing, infrastructure, willingness of
the pharmacists to add new evolving roles to Pharmacists practicing in Nigeria have many
their duties, lack of proper coordination of challenges to address that are born of the
activities, resistance of physicians, lack of rapid changes being experienced in health
proper training for pharmacists, failure of care delivery, particularly, over the last
many hospital and community pharmacies to twenty years. With continuing advances in
adopt the practice and lack of self- the biomedical area, and in information
confidence. These are also frequently technology, as well as growing consumer
compounded by the continuous resistance of expectations, it can be predicted that this
some medical doctors against patient- momentum will continue and perhaps
oriented pharmaceutical services, parti- accelerate change. In the face of so much
cularly in hospital wards. innovation and the uncertainty that it brings,
it is critical that pharmacists create a forward
Pharmaceutical care is now an acceptable thinking and flexible vision of the roles that
practice to Nigerian pharmacists and the they and other health care professional will
need for its application is frequently play in the evolving health care system.
addressed in continuing education pro-
grammes, conferences and workshops. To survive, pharmacists must be willing to
However, not much has been done by the acknowledge the rapidly occurring changes
pharmacy profession to route the practice in health care delivery and accept the reality
firmly to avoid neglect and intimidation that the changes will continue. Traditional
arising from lack of understanding of roles and activities which are no longer
purpose and misguided judgment by some needed or valued in the new system must be
other health care professional. The new willingly let go. Pharmacists will be conti-
roles for pharmacists in hospitals and nuously left behind unless they aggressively
community pharmacies in the provision of step into action and become involved in all
pharmaceutical care means that pharmacy critical activities that are underway in the
profession must begin to address the system or practice arena in which they find
• need for the training of more technicians
to assist in dispensing functions - if Patrick O Erah
pharmacists will have the time to Editor
effectively provide pharmaceutical care;
and References
• development and enforcement of areas of
1. Adenika FB. Pharmacy in Nigeria. Panpharm Ltd,
specialization for pharmacists in hospital Lagos, Nigeria, 1998.
and community practice. 2. Daily Times (Nigeria), 8 Jan 1975.
3. Erah PO, Nwazuoke JC. Identification of
The path for continuous growth of the Standards for Pharmaceutical Care in Benin City.
Trop J Pharm Res. 2002; 1 (2): 55-66
pharmacy profession obviously requires 4. Hepler CD, Strand LM. Opportunities and
expansion, resurfacing and modernization. responsibilities in pharmaceutical care. Am J
This justifies the need for new pharmacy Pharm Educ 1989;53(Suppl):7S-14S.
programme and curriculum that can produce
the manpower required for the new roles.
Thus, the introduction of the Doctor of
Pharmacy (PharmD) programme, being
pioneered in Nigeria by the University of
Benin, Benin City, is a welcome develop-

196 Trop J Pharm Res, December 2003; 2 (2)