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Studying pharmacy is the best decision I ever made- Meet Aniekan Ekpenyong, FIP YPG Professional Innovation Grant Winner 2016

On October 27th 2016 social media was awash with news that Nigeria’s pharmacist and former IPSF AfRO Secretary, Mr. Aniekan Ekpenyong had won International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Young Pharmacists Group (YPG) Professional Innovation Grant. IPSF AfRO Regional Media and Publications Officer, Kennedy Odokonyero had a chat with him about the research idea that made him win and much more. Here is the excerpt of the interview.

I believe a lot of people out there who were congratulating you on winning the grant don’t know about the research that made you win. So, let us start with your research idea that allowed you to emerge as the best. Can you share more details on it?  

Well, the aim of the project is to analyse the gaps in numbers, distribution and specialities and recommend a 5-10 year plan/policy in preventing a human resource crisis in pharmacy. The research will generate evidence based recommendations to solve the challenge, thereby improving access to medicines, responsible use of medicines and overall health outcomes for the patients/society. This work will generate data and basis for a scale up project on a sub-regional and regional basis, giving evidence for interventions and evaluating short and long term interventions. Results of this research will be the evidence for poor health outcomes in areas of low human resources, advocacy to stakeholders and improved investment in pharmacy education, thus promoting the indispensable essence of the profession and pharmacy professionals within the health sector.

Were you confident that you would win?

Hahaha that’s a tough one. Well, I had given up! The grant was supposed to be announced during the FIP conference in Argentina, but it wasn’t.    

How did you feel after you got the news that you won?        

Stunned! For the whole day, I wasn’t myself. In fact, I lost my appetite to eat. I was just surprised. Everything just came so fast, especially my timeline being flooded with good wishes.   Actually, I hadn’t seen the email. I was called at about 7am and told that I won the grant. Man, waking up to such awesome news? I had to calm myself down and make sense of what happened.

I understand the feeling.

Haha. I bet you do.

On a personal level, what does winning the grant mean to you?   

A deep sense of responsibility especially considering my project topic, and gratitude to God for being chosen.

I didn’t go to a journalism school but you can see my interview skills are on point.😀

Man, it really is!

Lastly, tell me about something readers of this interview don’t know about you. Your family, current work and future aspirations?       

I am the first of two born to amazing parents. I am 23 years old. Studying pharmacy was a personal choice. My parents wanted me to study medicine. I never loved the concept of a hospital. I decided to opt for pharmacy and I think that’s the best decision I have ever made. I graduated in July of this year and that’s when I was inducted to become a pharmacist. I was among the best five or ten students in my class. I currently work as local pharmacist i.e. a part time pharmacist. I am waiting for my internship that will start sometime soon.

My future inspiration is to pursue a master’s degree in global health on issues that are most relevant to pharmacy. I have also discovered a passion in supply chain and health logistics. Basically, I would love to help Africa discover herself in any way I can.

Aniekan during his graduation. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)

You can listen to Aniekan’s love story with pharmacy and IPSF here.

About YPG Grant for Professional Innovation

According to FIP’s website, YPG aims to support young pharmacist members from around the globe who have limited resources for professional organization involvement or their own research. The YPG Grant for professional innovation consists of € 1000 for the implementation of a project by a young pharmacist/pharmaceutical scientist. Projects can stem from any field of pharmacy (pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical science and/or pharmacy education) but should directly or indirectly benefit or improve health of communities and demonstrate the added-value of pharmacy on health. Pending the acceptance of a project report, the Grant recipient may additionally be awarded a complimentary  registration, a return APEX airfare and hotel accommodation. Did you know that the 2017 application is open? Visit http://fip.org/young_pharmacists_group for more details.