The newly inducted President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia (PAL), Matilnue Dukuly Fahnbulleh, has termed as most critically important the reclassification of pharmacists, expressing her leadership unwavering advocacy for the reclassification of the profession.
According to her, Pharmacists in Liberia remain one of the most educated, yet least utilized, less paid, and not appreciated in the health sector, and as such, have led to diminished quality output among Pharmacists and has triggered a brain drain in Pharmacy Practices, because most Pharmacists are considering other options that are more lucrative and respected.
“This leadership, with your support is very committed to finding an equitable solution to the reclassification struggle. We remain engaged with the appropriate authorities, and we are very optimistic that with the assurances we are receiving, there is light at the end of the tunnel”, Madam Dukuly Fahnbulleh made this known at the inaugural program of PAL, held Friday, June 10, 2022, at the Boulevard Palace Hotel, in Monrovia.
Outlining some challenges, she said Pharmacists find themselves in an unusually complex and difficult health care environment. Ethical challenges, clinical challenges, protecting the profession, and ensuring the wellbeing of Pharmacists are contending issues they are confronted with, something which has had a toll on the quality of services they offer as pharmacists and are fundamental to Liberia’s Healthcare delivery system.
Adding, she narrated that as if the already complex problems are not enough, the coronavirus pandemic and other health care issues have further exacerbated the problem, placing strain on the government’s scarce resources, and making it difficult to address the many challenges. There is no gainsaying that it is in times like these that the Pharmacy Association, like any other professional association, needs leadership. Not just any kind of leadership, but one that is selfless and places the interest of all above personal interest, the PAL President underscored.
“It has become evidently clear that we need strong institutions to tackle the challenges facing Pharmacists at every level. It takes collaboration and cooperation between our institutions and our encouragement of one another to address the challenges we face. By this I mean the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia, Pharmacy Board of Liberia, the Liberia Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), the Department of Pharmaceutical Services (DPS) at the MOH, and Liberia’s prestigious and only School of Pharmacy, University of Liberia.”
She added that the Association must function as a team, recognizing that the greatest success does not come from the effort of one or more individuals but from a team effort, saying, each of us present at this event and those of our colleagues who could not make it here today is a strong individual leader and we count on your commitment at achieving the best possible outcomes.
“At this point, permit me to touch on a few issues that will form the basis of our engagements and the agenda of our tenure. To begin with, let me state that the first and most important task of this administration is to unify the PAL. We have been through a lot as an Association. Like any organization, PAL has issues. These deep-rooted issues were intensified during the period of elections. They are issues surrounding the moral of the Association, coordination amongst ourselves, respect for constituted authorities, and discrepancies in the Association’s Constitution.”
She explained that these issues have fueled division and misunderstanding among them, as a result of which their progress as an association has stalled. “Today, we make a firm commitment to unify this Association. We will initiate dialogue at different levels and put in place the requisite framework that makes everyone feel important, needed, and accepted. To get this going, I, in this public manner, extend a hand of friendship to my contender in the just-ended election. PAL needs the expertise of all, as everyone is a cardinal player in this rebranding process. I also call on our supporters from both sides to emulate this gesture. We shall also, within the next few months, initiate the PAL constitution reform process. This is intended to produce a document that addresses all the sticky issues and conforms to current realities.”
Furthermore, she said that closely related to the institution’s position on these ethical issues is their dedication to professionalism, stating that as Pharmacists, they should continue to hold themselves to the highest standards and must stay committed to the core principles of Pharmacy Practice despite the difficulties they are confronted with.
“We must speak out to address the inhumanity against our profession but do so with respect and in the nobility of our profession. We must never shy away from speaking out against the inequalities in the healthcare system but in doing so the appropriate channels should be followed. Just as we are trained to draw the line between poison and medicines, we must be able to know when to advocate or agitate”, she told her colleagues.
“May I draw your attention to the fact that for the most part, pharmacists collectively have been left out of the discussions on issue facing Liberia’s Health System yet, have been expected to function well within the very system”, Pharm. Dukuly Fahnbulleh noted.
She indicated that there will be no more business as usual, “Today, we part ways with business as usual. We will get our rightful place around the table. Using our networks and the quality of Leadership we will provide; we will explore mutually beneficial partnerships that seek to advance the cause of the Pharmacy Profession and identify avenues for advancement for every Pharmacist.” Stressing that the visibility of the Association will be achieved through their ambitious programs, adding, “you have my word, No Pharmacist will be left behind”.
On the administrative side, the (PAL) new Chief Executive told her colleagues that securing office space for the Association is key to her administrative agenda. She noted that PAL cannot be taken seriously when it exists in a mobile office, pointing out that to function fully and effectively, the institution must be properly situated. Working with all stakeholders and our esteemed partners, we shall vigorously and immediately pursue this target, she added.
Furthermore, she said in line with the powers conferred upon her leadership by the constitution, it shall, within the course of the coming days, constitute and appoint Heads of various Committees. The Committees will help the institution expand its resource base through core programs that will give the Association pride of place in the history of the Republic of Liberia and beyond.
Motivating her colleagues, she said as experts in medicines, pharmacists have always been known as an accessible and trusted source of advice and treatment, and their role in the healthcare delivery system is indispensable. According to PAL President, it is very important that they continue to encourage themselves to exploit opportunities for advancement, considering that the local pharmaceutical industry is thriving and would need more specialist pharmacists to carry on.
“We will seek opportunities for advancement for all Pharmacists and strengthen our relationship with partner organizations at the regional and global level. The task on hand is daunting but with determination and steadfastness, we will accomplish greater things. May I, at this point, congratulate all Pharmacists as we turn a new page. Your Contributions for years and decades towards the progress of our profession will be remembered”, she assured.
Madam Dukuly Fahnbulleh paid homage to Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, for demonstrating her commitment to every facet of Liberia’s Healthcare System. She thanked the VP, also, for her continuous support to Liberia’s development through her office and the Jewel Starfish Foundation.
Those inducted include Pharm. Matilnue Dukuly Fahnbulleh, President, Pharm. James O. Bryan, Vice President, Pharm. Life Kokalo, Secretary General, Pharm. Esther Woiwor Johnson, Assistant Secretary-General, Pharm. Joseph B. Kamara, Financial Secretary, and Dr. Joshua, Champlain.
Serving as a Guest Speaker for the program, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operation in the Office of the Vice President, T. Titus Charley, prayed they will ensure that Pharmaceutical professionals are well paid in the not too distant future. He described the ascendency of Madam Matilnue Dukuly Fahnbulleh at the helm of PAL leadership as the first in history for a female to head the affairs of the Association.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives (HOR) Health Committee, Representative Joseph Sowarbi while applauding the Association for the positive engagements, stated that the issue of reclassification of Pharmacists is on an irreversible path, disclosing that a team was constituted comprising of the Ministry of Health, Civil Servant Association of Liberia, and the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning on the matter.
“No health facility that is having accommodation of six beds and above will exist. We are serious and because of that we will incorporate it into our national public health laws”, the Lofa County Lawmaker disclosed.
Also Remarking, the Deputy Minister for Planning and Research at the Ministry of Health, A. Vaifee Tulay said the Ministry is concentrating on the official working of the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia. He urged members of the group to take the Association seriously, adding they are very important to the health sector.
Reported by: Stephen G. Fellajuah