Pharmacists in Nigeria have been urged to tap into artificial intelligence in a bid to enhance pharmaceutical research and new drug discovery.
This call was made by the President of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPHARM), Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, during the investiture of new fellows of the Academy in Lagos, on December 8, 2022.
Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi who lauded the progress being made globally in the areas of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and the benefits therein for Nigeria, noted that there is a clear imperative for Nigerian pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists and medical professionals in the field of research and development to increasingly take advantage of the revolution in the new digital phenomenon. He also called on the government to help create the right environment that makes meaningful research possible.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is helping to make pharmaceutical research and new drug discovery less expensive and definitely more productive. Researchers realize that in the time that it would have taken to test the efficacy of say a handful of chemical molecules manually, with AI, it is possible to test several hundreds of different chemical molecules. With AI, therefore, we can create better, safer and more affordable medicines, within a much shorter time frame too. In addition to helping to ensure that basic facilities, including clean water and electricity, are available, government policy direction must also be such that deliberately enables AI to take root and grow,” he added.
Adelusi-Adeluyi, who is a former minister of health, also emphasized the need for Nigeria to commit to producing active manufacturing ingredients (API) for drugs manufacturing, given the vast hydrocarbon resources that it is endowed with, rather than continuous reliance on the importation of same raw materials.
Prince Adelusi-Adeluyi also encouraged pharmacists in the country to engage the nation’s political leadership on the issue.
“Pharmacists need to enlighten the political leadership, including today’s presidential aspirants on this issue and painstakingly interrogate them on their plans for utilizing Nigeria’s oil and gas deposits. The political leadership needs to better appreciate why a petrochemical industry is critical to Nigeria and pharmacists have a role not only to continue to drive this enlightenment, but also participate actively in the electoral process,” he said.
Speaking on reforms in the health sector, while presenting a paper titled ‘Advancing Pharmacy for Economy Prosperity Nigeria,’ the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Professor Cyril Usifoh, kicked against the step being taken to make The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) a revenue-generating agency, noting that it would make the prices of drugs and medicines to soar. Professor Usifoh commended the increased participation of pharmacists in Nigerian politics. He extolled the Academy and pharmacists for their dedication towards ensuring safety of lives of the citizenry and urged them to continue doing their best to reposition the pharmacy profession in the country.
Speaking on behalf of the newly inducted members, Senator Sadiq Umar, a pharmacist, said that the inductees who are drawn from different spheres of endeavour have particular responsibilities towards the Academy and the pharmacy profession and urged the Academy to do the best they can to reposition the profession. He commended the Academy and pharmacists in Nigeria for the major role they play in ensuring the safety of the Nigerian citizens.
The highpoint of the occasion was the formal induction of 20 leading pharmacists into the Academy. Notable among them are Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) of the University of Benin, Professor Ray Ozolua; Managing Director of GSK Nigeria, Kunle Oyelana; Managing Director, Medplus Pharmacy Chain, Joke Bakare; Executive Director, the Nett Pharmacy Chain, Chris Ehimen; and Registrar of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN), Babashehu Ahmed. Also inducted as an Honorary Fellow of the Academy was a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and proprietor of Afe Babalola University, Chief Afe Babalola.
Published on Brandfit.