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One constant through the novel Coronavirus pandemic is the fact that health workers play frontline roles, and they always will.

In this part of the world, the community pharmacist is often the first medical contact when one feels ill. Bearing in mind that some of the most of the common symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, tiredness and cough are not unique to this condition, some people with the virus (and their close contacts) may present to the pharmacy before getting further help.

The ongoing pandemic has led to changes in several aspects of our lives and businesses. With the lockdown in several parts of the world, most essential services and stores, as well as certain online platforms are still in operations.

Community pharmacies are at the forefront of the essential services especially as most of them are built to be easily accessible. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the people working behind the counter lead their own lives, which is what we are talking about today.

Some of our pharmacy owners across the country shared with us their opinions- on what it means to be a frontline worker in this pandemic, what has changed, as well as what it means for the business of pharmacy on their end.

Pharm Nwachukwu EmmanuelmyPharmacy Ben and Becks Branch , Benin City, Edo

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your outlook on Pharmacy?

The COVID-19 outbreak has further led to the increased relevance of community pharmacies. This is mostly due to the fact we are the first call point in the community when people have a need to be medical questions answered.

How has it affected the business of pharmacy so far?

Increased demand for knowledge and merchandise is needed to fight the COVID-19 scourge. The business of pharmacy has been affected in that because we are the ones the community turn to, so we need to as regards COVID-19 preparations and safety was met.

How has working on the frontlines of the pandemic been?

It’s been a hell of a ride especially because of the many unknowns and postulations that the public has had to deal with. Social media has made it even more difficult because there is so much false news that we as community pharmacists are battling with.

What do you think pharmacists should do in response to this?

Educate, educate, educate. The need for us as community pharmacists to become bastions of knowledge that’s accurate, relevant and documentable has never been greater.

Dr Grace O. Ogeiva FPSN (PharmD) -myPharmacy VJ Essex Branch, Benin City, Edo

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your outlook on Pharmacy?

The COVID-19 outbreak took the world unawares. The Nigerian health system,  including pharmacy, was not ready for the COVID-19 crisis. With the initial lockdown in China,  and India, also shutting down the export of pharmaceuticals, it became obvious that we were going to face a dire shortage of medicines.

As it stands, less than 30% of the medicines we need as a country are produced locally and even the APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) are imported from these countries amongst others already under lockdown. This period has shown that a lot needs to be done in our industry. The Federal Government of Nigeria needs to fund the local pharmaceutical industries to make  Nigeria self-sufficient in medicines and other health-related products.

How has it affected the business of pharmacy so far?

Well, there was an initial surge in sales as clients rushed to buy personal protection items like facemasks, hand gloves,  hand sanitizers and immune booster.  But as the weeks roll by, we find it difficult to replace some of the stock sold. This is because the Pharmaceutical companies are finding it difficult to replenish their Stock due to the lockdown in most  Countries that export pharmaceuticals to Nigeria, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has working on the frontlines of the pandemic been?

As healthcare providers, we have been there for our patients and clients, since this COVID-19 pandemic began.

Initially, there was a surge in request for personal protective materials like facemasks,  hand gloves as well as hand sanitizers and immune boosters especially Vitamin C. As our stock of these items got depleted we had to run around to replenish and it was not easy especially as lockdown of Lagos State,  the Commercial Capital was in place. Also, we had to help manage the growing anxiety among some clients whose relatives had just come back home from cities with cases of the virus.

We advised isolation of such members of the household for  14 days while being observed for the symptoms. In dealing with our patients /clients on a one-on-one basis, we were very careful to be kitted with personal protection equipment as well as maintaining a social distance of about 4 feet during consultations. We also provided information to members of the public to stay at home to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

For those who visit the pharmacy, we have provided running water and soap for handwashing, hand sanitizer and enforce social distancing as they wait to see the pharmacist or pick up their medicines. In all of this, we do not forget to show compassion especially to the weak and vulnerable.

What do you think pharmacists should do in response to this?

This COVID-19 crisis is an eye-opener to Pharmacists. We should use every possible means to put pressure on the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide adequate funding for the Local Pharmaceutical Manufacturing  Companies to step up production of pharmaceuticals to cater to our health care needs as a country.

The Federal Government to provide infrastructure and enabling environment to the Pharmaceutical industry so that local production of up to 90 per cent of the medicines we need in the country can be achieved. This is the time for us to let the public know who we are and the vital role we play in impacting the Health and well being of our communities.

We should leverage on technology and use tools like telemedicine to get to the hard-to-reach that need medical care and especially during this lockdown. Also, it’s time to embrace projects like my-medicines.com that help deliver medicines to those who need them. Pharmacists should be more involved as public health practitioners so that our relevance in Healthcare can be felt more by the public.

Pharm Osinowo AdefemimyPharmacy All Day Branch , Mushin, Lagos

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your outlook on Pharmacy?

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected the outlook on Pharmacy positively in the sense that the pharmacists have been able to inform and educate most of our clients on social media, especially via WhatsApp. We have had adequate video clips and write-ups about the novel coronavirus sent at intervals.

How has it affected the business of pharmacy so far?

The outbreak initially affected the sales positively, but after the lockdown, there has been a significant decrease in daily sales.

How has working on the frontlines with the novel Coronavirus pandemic been?

Working on the frontlines gives me joy because my little contribution is giving and putting smiles on the faces of our clients, but honestly, thinking about the risk sometimes hampers morale.

What do you think pharmacists should do in response to this?

Pharmacists should always protect themselves, members of staff and every customer that comes into drugs from the pharmacy. The guidelines from the authorities such as WHO should be maintained at all times.

Pharm. Chinwe TabansimyPharmacy First Victorian Branch , Akute, Ogun

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected the business of pharmacy so far?

There has been a tremendous reduction in sales, which I believe is basically because the peak period (usually during the evening) is affected. Also, clients who are used to coming into the pharmacy and being comfortable and relaxed have had their outlook changed drastically, but it is getting better by the day

How has working on the frontlines of the pandemic been?

It has not been easy managing personal protective wear while trying to meet up with our usual routine. However, it feels good being able to render quality services as most of the patients prefer coming to us first to going to the hospital.

What do you think pharmacists should do in response to this?

Pharmacists should make use of this avenue to make a great impact on society by going the extra mile in rendering health care services. The clients are beginning to see and spread the word about pharmacists, which is a plus.

Pharm Chidiebere OrjimyPharmacy Simtab Branch , Asaba , Delta

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your outlook on Pharmacy?

My outlook on pharmacy due to COVID-19 makes me feel that pharmacists should do more in the area of local production to make our relevance to the country more pronounced. Some of these include hand sanitisers of adequate alcoholic concentrations, face masks and other relevant material with standard GMP and cost-effectiveness

How has it affected the business of pharmacy so far?

The business of pharmacy has been dull due to the land border closures affecting the distribution and the stay-at-home order affecting traffic of clients in premises although pharmacies are in the exemption list.

How has working on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic been?

Working in the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy for pharmacists and clients as extra costs are being incurred by some patients. They buy gloves if they need to check their blood pressure or blood sugar and feel compelled to get hand sanitizers for their family use at home. The pharmacist-on-duty trying to maintain the two metres distancing from patients, compelling them to wash hands and sanitize before entering the pharmacy, avoiding handshake greetings and sanitising office tables as often as possible makes some clients feel embarrassed.

What do you think pharmacists should do in response to this?

In response to this, pharmacists should inculcate an awareness campaign on print media, one-on-one discussions with people and other forms of media such as television programs.

Pharm. SanusimyPharmacy Trends Branch , Egbeda, Lagos

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your outlook on Pharmacy?

Pharmacy has not been regarded as a front for medical emergencies, but we are available to manage chronic illnesses medication refill, household medical assistance and servicing of prescriptions and we have been doing that excellently.

How has it affected the business of pharmacy so far?

Due to restricted movement and a lack of transportation, pharmacies have been localized to their immediate environment. There has been additional stress on members of staff and management to ensure our availability to the public.

How has working on the frontlines of the pandemic been?

It has been difficult as a result of the security and safety lapse, refilling stock, price hike, transportation challenges of Staff and goods, information gap and associated risks of maintaining accessible drug supply.

What do you think pharmacists should do in response to this?

We must protect ourselves. It is important to implement safety procedures for members of staff and customers

We also need to improve security, as well as educate the members of staff and customers on do’s and don’ts associated with the transmission of the virus.

Pharm. Ayodele Ebenezer Ogunole – myPharmacy Zionlife Branch , Idu, Abuja

How has it affected the novel Coronavirus outbreak affected the business of pharmacy so far?

I think so far, it has affected the business of Pharmacy positively, although we have recorded low sales due to reduced traffic as a result of lockdown.

How has it affected the business of pharmacy so far?

Working on the front lines with novel coronavirus pandemic has helped us step up our game in times of standardizing our practice and it has given us recognition. It is also an avenue for us to showcase who we are as pharmacists.

What do you think pharmacists should do in response to this?

We need to do more in the area of making good use of this coronavirus pandemic to educate our clients on the disease and possible ways to prevent it and help them understand better who we are.

The job of the pharmacist through these times is critical, and every experience is peculiar.

We appreciate the work of all healthcare workers striving to keep us safe through these times. Remember to stay home and stay safe.

We can bring your medicines to your doorstep!

Reach out to us at www.my-medicines.com , place a call or send a WhatsApp message to +2348082751466

#FIGHTCOVID-19

Remember To Do The Five:

• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer
• Cough into your elbows
• Avoid touching all parts of your face
• Keep a distance of 6 feet from the next person.
• Feeling sick? Stay at home.

Never forget to order your drugs and hand sanitizers
from my-medicines.com and we will deliver to your doorstep.

Stay Safe.