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Final year student of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos (UNILAG) – Adeleke Adekunle has emerged as the best pharmacy brain in Nigeria, winning the 2020 edition of Shalina Young Talents Award (SYTA).

Adekunle beat 700 other students from the University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University (Ife), Ahmadu Bello University (Zaria) and University of Nigeria (Nsukka); who entered for the fierce competition described as the biggest hunt for the best pharmacy brain in Nigeria.

The pharmacy students from some of Nigeria’s top Universities fought fiercely for the coveted title in the grand finale of the competition, held in Lagos. The event involved quizzes, debates, case studies and viva among a host of other criteria to select the eventual winner.

Olarenwaju Israel of Obafemi Awolowo University and Esther Olukorode of University of Ibadan successfully emerged as the 1st and 2nd runner-up, respectively.

Speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Shalina Healthcare Nigeria Limited, Mr. Somnath Malakar, said the second edition of the competition has been improved on as part of the move to recognize the pharmacists community as one of the integral part of the healthcare system in Nigeria.

“We kept our promise of making the second edition of SYTA bigger and wider in scale. We went to five universities as compared to three last year”.

“We had about 700 students apply, after the five zonal rounds in each of the universities, where over 100 students appeared for different rounds and finally the top three finalists emerged,” he said.

Malakar said the program idea was drawn from fact that considering the growing need of improved healthcare infrastructure and practitioners in Nigeria, the company on its part acknowledges the importance of grooming such young talented students through the SYTA initiative, who would eventually contribute their bit to the profession.

“This initiative is an attempt from our side to groom these students so that they go on to become better pharmacists and contribute to the society at large. As the overall healthcare system improves it would not only benefit Shalina but also every other stakeholder within the healthcare ecosystem in the coming days,” he added.

He assured that the pharmaceutical company will sustain the initiative going forward.

The Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Lagos State Ministry of Health – Dr. Moyosore Adejumo, commended the initiative, noting that it will improve the knowledge and soft skills of the students, especially their presentation and communication skills, which are important to function in national and international spheres.

She said the students performed brilliantly and raised valid points during the competition, clearly emphasizing the presence of excellent up-coming pharmacy minds across the country.

“The initiative is a good platform to have students interact with industry and academic stalwarts. It is an innovative strategy for us in the pharmaceutical industry to groom better young pharmacists for posterity”.

Speaking at the event, the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, commended the company for their steadfastness, commitment and consistency in organizing the competition for the second year in a row.

Represented by the National Chairman, Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN), Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Amibor, he said in addition to an improvement in the second edition of the competition in terms of more schools participation, the initiative has also shown that it is for the improvement and growth of the pharmacy profession, as well as the healthcare system in Nigeria.

“There is an obvious improvement from last year, especially as the students raised their performance bar, showing that they are willing to take on the pharmaceutical industry and improve it,” he said.

Also speaking, the National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, Pharm Samuel Adekola, said the competition has improved significantly, as it will help enhance the young pharmacists.

He said “the initiative also shows that we are not just training students but preparing them for the industry. They have really made me proud and it is an evidence that we have a bright future for our pharmacy profession. This program is contributing significantly to the growth of the profession and industry of Nigeria”.

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