• As she promises to prioritize the reclassification of pharmacists

By G Bennie Bravo Johnson

Matilnue Dukuly Fahnbulleh, the recently elected president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia (PAL), has deemed the reclassification of pharmacists to be of the utmost importance, demonstrating her leadership’s steadfast support for the reclassification of the profession.

According to her, pharmacists in Liberia continue to be among the most educated, yet underutilized, underpaid, and underappreciated professionals in the health sector. This has led to a decline in the quality of output among pharmacists and triggered a brain drain in pharmacy practice, as the majority of pharmacists are considering more lucrative and respected careers.

“This leadership, with your help, is extremely committed to finding a fair resolution to the reclassification conflict. We continue to work with the relevant authorities, and based on their guarantees, we are optimistic that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” this was disclosed by Madam Dukuly Fahnbulleh during the opening ceremony of the (PAL) on Friday, June 10 at the Boulevard Palace Hotel in Monrovia.

In describing a number of obstacles, she stated that pharmacists operate in an especially complex and demanding health care setting. Ethical concerns, clinical obstacles, protecting the profession, and ensuring the well-being of pharmacists are vexing issues they face, which has taken a toll on the quality of services they provide as pharmacists and is essential to the healthcare delivery system in Liberia.

As if the existing complex concerns weren’t enough, the coronavirus epidemic and other health care crises have exacerbated the situation, straining the government’s limited resources and making it harder to solve the numerous obstacles. There is little doubt that the Pharmacy Group, like any other professional association, requires leadership in times like these. Not just any kind of leadership, but one that is unselfish and prioritizes the interests of others over one’s own, emphasized the PAL President.

“It is now abundantly clear that robust institutions are required to address the difficulties facing pharmacists at every level.” To confront the issues, we face, it is necessary for our institutions to collaborate and cooperate and for us to support one another. This includes the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia, the Pharmacy Board of Liberia, the Liberia Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), the Department of Pharmaceutical Services (DPS) within the MOH, and the University of Liberia’s exclusive and distinguished School of Pharmacy.”

She added that the association must function as a team, recognizing that the greatest success is not the result of the efforts of one or more individuals, but of teamwork, saying, “Each of us present at this event and those of our colleagues who could not be here today is a strong individual leader, and we rely on your dedication to achieve the best possible results.”

Permit me to briefly discuss a few problems that will serve as the foundation for our engagements and the agenda for our term. Let me begin by stating that the primary objective of our government is to unify the PAL. As an organization, we’ve been through much. PAL, like any other organization, has challenges. During the election season, the severity of these long-standing problems grew. There are concerns regarding the Association’s morale, coordination amongst us, respect for established authorities, and constitutional inconsistencies.”

In addition, she added that these concerns have caused discord and misunderstanding among them, which has halted their progress as an organization.

“Today, we pledge to unite this organization. We will initiate communication at all levels and implement the necessary structure to ensure that everyone feels valued, needed, and welcomed. To begin, I would like to extend a hand of friendship to my opponent in the just concluded election. PAL requires the knowledge of everyone, as everyone has a key role in this rebranding effort. I also encourage our supporters on both sides to follow suit. In the coming months, we will also launch the PAL constitution change process. The objective is to generate a text that covers all thorny topics and adheres to contemporary circumstances”.

In addition, she stated that the institution’s stance on these ethical issues is closely related to their commitment to professionalism, stating that pharmacists should continue to hold themselves to the highest standards and must remain committed to the fundamental principles of pharmacy practice despite the challenges they face.

“We must speak out to address the inhumanity towards our profession, but we must do it with respect and in the noble spirit of our profession.” We must never be afraid to speak out against the inequalities in the healthcare system, but we must do so through the proper channels. Just as we are taught to distinguish between poison and medication, we must be able to distinguish between advocating and agitating “She informed her coworkers.

Further, Pharm. Dukuly Fahnbulleh remarked, “May I draw your attention to the reality that pharmacists have been largely excluded from debates on the difficulties facing Liberia’s health system, despite the fact that they have been expected to perform effectively inside the system.”

“Today, we split ways with business as usual,” she said, adding, “We will take our proper place at the table.” Using our networks and the caliber of leadership we will give, we will investigate mutually advantageous collaborations that seek to advance the cause of the pharmacy profession and identify advancement opportunities for each pharmacist.” They emphasize that their ambitious plans will increase the association’s prominence, adding, “You have my promise that no pharmacist will be left behind.”

On the administrative side, the new Chief Executive of the PAL advised her colleagues that acquiring office space for the Association is a top priority. She remarked that PAL cannot be taken seriously if it operates out of a mobile office, emphasizing that for the organization to operate efficiently, it must have a permanent location. She stated, “We will pursue this objective aggressively and immediately in partnership with all stakeholders and our distinguished partners.”

In addition, she announced that, in accordance with the constitutional authority assigned to her administration, it will form and nominate the heads of numerous committees the next day.

The Committees will assist the institution in expanding its resource base through key activities that will give the Association a prominent place in the history of Liberia and beyond.

According to her, as medical specialists, pharmacists have traditionally been regarded as a reliable source of advice and treatment. Their job is indispensable in the healthcare delivery system. In light of the fact that the local pharmaceutical business is developing and would require more specialized pharmacists to continue, it is crucial, according to the president of PAL, that they continue to urge themselves to pursue growth chances.

“We shall explore advancement possibilities for all pharmacists and strengthen our partnerships with regional and international partner organizations.

The work at hand is overwhelming, but with resolve and perseverance, we will achieve greater things. Permit me to congratulate all pharmacists as we begin a new chapter. Your efforts to the advancement of our profession over the years and decades will be remembered “She guaranteed.

Vice President of the Republic of Liberia Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor was honored by Madam Dukuly Fahnbulleh for her dedication to all aspects of Liberia’s healthcare system. In addition, she complimented the Vice President for her unwavering support of Liberia’s development through her position and the Jewel Starfish Foundation.

President Pharm. Matilnue Dukuly Fahnbulleh, Vice President Pharm. James O. Bryan, Secretary General Pharm. Life Kokalo, Assistant Secretary General Pharm. Esther Woiwor Johnson, Financial Secretary Pharm. Joseph B. Kamara, and Dr. Joshua Champlain are among those admitted.

As a guest speaker for the program, T. Titus Charley, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in the Office of the Vice President, guaranteed that in the near future pharmaceutical professionals will be compensated fairly. He characterized the ascension of Madam Matilnue Dukuly Fahnbulleh to the PAL leadership as the first time in the organization’s history that a woman has led its operations.

The Chairman of the House of Representatives (HOR) Health Committee, Representative Joseph Sowarbi, while praising the Association for its positive engagement, stated that the issue of reclassification of pharmacists is on an irreversible path and disclosed that a team comprised of the Ministry of Health, the Civil Servant Association of Liberia, and the Ministry of Finance, Development, and Planning has been formed to address the issue.

There will be no healthcare facilities with more than six beds. “We will put it into our national public health regulations because we are serious,” the Lofa County politician said.

Vaifee Tulay, Deputy Minister for Planning and Research in the Ministry of Health, added that the Ministry is focusing on the official activities of the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia. He advised group members to take the organization seriously.

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