Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Pharmacist: Beyond The Science – Pope Jay

The origin of man has continued to remain one of the mysteries beyond his reach. While some have tried to answer this question of man’s source within the confines of logic, some others believe a force beyond man’s comprehension is responsible for his existence. So far, none of these standpoints is yet to achieve an absolute answer. However, studying the flora and fauna components of the earth, the geography of the earth and some other important factors, some basic facts can be established. The Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution is one of such facts: The fact that it is only organisms that can successfully adapt to their environment that survive. The Homo sapiens is one of the most successful animals on the surface of the earth. The reason for this is not far-fetched; it is mainly due to her ability to adapt to her environment and even optimize some alterations to it, even though some unintended effects often arise from her escapades in this process.

   Science has been described as man’s unending search for the truth; the truth about himself, the truth about his environment both living and non-living etc. On a number of occasions, man has succeeded at discovering some of these “truths” and for others, he continues to search. In the course of his search, man has uncovered some hidden perks and gifts of nature. One of such gifts is the medicinal effect of quite a number of resources in nature.

Pharmacy is defined as the art, practice or profession of preparing, preserving, compounding, and dispensing medical drugs. A drug is any substance that produces an effect, toxic or beneficial, on the human body and it usually of plant, animal or mineral origin. The apothecary is the one that has chosen to dedicate his life to the endless search of the truth about these medicines. He is like every other man yet he cannot be like every other. It is often said that no man is above mistakes, but the pharmacist has to be closer to perfection than most because the smallest mistake on his path could end the lives of many. He has to know “what part of what works for what for who”, he then has to find the best way to isolate useful components from larger sources and if possible, replicate without diminishing beneficial effects. He is faced with the challenge of finding the most suitable form of use that will produce the effect he requires with little or no side effects. He then as to fit into the health team so he can properly guide other medical practitioners and the general public in the use of his products.

The pharmacist over the years has had to bear this burden; marrying the mortar and pestle, making the laboratory his home and the dispensary his workplace. However, with the evolution of a more patient oriented practice; leading to an increased level of interaction between the pharmacist and his patient, many more abstract features of the pharmacist are now coming to light. Whilst many are still strongly of the opinion that a health care provider should have little or no emotional connection with the patient to ensure optimal care, new findings have started to show that the psychological state of the patient plays a major role in determining his state of health and response to any treatment. Often times, the patient, apart from medication, also needs some level of emotional assurance and reliability in therapy and in the African system where most issues of mental health are not handled until acute stages, the pharmacists plays a major role in this aspect.

Even though several schools of thought would probably disagree at some point. It is hard to really understand what goes on in the mind of your health care provider as you lay your complaints to him; was he silently mocking you? Was he thinking of how he could make maximum profit off of you? Or maybe he just didn’t care and was just doing his job? The truth is maybe we would never know. But in the end, beyond all the science and economics, one primary factor remains constant; he cares! The pharmacist is often a friend, confidant and counsellor.


(Pope Jay is a student of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife and a member of the OAU Peeps Team.)

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