Black Leaders Awareness Day: 18 July 2021

Today marks Black Leaders Awareness Day (BLAD) which was created to enable people from all cultures to experience the wisdom of past, current, and next-generation leaders through the speeches, quotes, and videos shared.

Sun 18th July 2021 The PDA

The day raises awareness of black leaders and serves to ensure that the history of black leaders remains at the forefront of society so that we are able to understand and acknowledge the impact these leaders have had throughout history thorough to the present day.

There have many well-known black leaders over the years that are recognised on a global scale such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou. 

Black Leaders Awareness Day is also used to showcase the black leaders of today such as those in healthcare like Dame Donna Kinnair, the former RCN General Secretary and in pharmacy Uzo Ibechukwu, Chief Pharmacist at Royal United Hospital Bath and Olutayo Arikawe, Pharmacist Superintendent at the Priory Community Pharmacy.

Black Leaders awareness day also coincides with Nelson Mandela International Day where people are invited to make a difference in their communities and professions as everyone has the ability and the responsibility to inspire change for the better.

Inspirational Black Leaders in Healthcare

PDA BAME Network Member, PDA Regional Committee Member and Clinical Pharmacist Abimbola Musa, would like to highlight the work of Nigerian Pharmacist Dora Akunyili.

Abimbola Musa said “I would like to put the spotlight on a past great female leader and Nigerian Pharmacist Dora Akunyili. She rose to the top of her field, despite several setbacks and adversity including threats to her life, such as being shot, which she survived and was able to tell the tale, and her facilities being burnt down, in several locations.

Dora worked through the ranks and progressed in her pharmacy career to become the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Nigerian equivalent to the MHRA and made it her life’s work to eradicate counterfeit medication and clandestine drug manufacture.

As a great leader she refused to take part in unethical practices and put the needs of the people before anything else, she believed one should “never compromise their ideals and sell out.”

Dora was a pioneer as she was one of the few female leaders of the agency and was by far the most successful. She set up a West African regulatory organisation and made it her mission to pursue counterfeiters across West Africa. Dora believed in sincerity of purpose and honesty, fair handedness in dealing with everyone, she built trust with the people and the people had confidence in her.

Although the challenges faced in the UK pharmacy environment are very different to those experienced by Dora Akunyili, the principle of not compromising one’s values and doing the best for those around you is of utmost importance, she was truly a leader in healthcare and an inspiration.”

Kings University Graduate and PDA Student Rep, Olakemi Komolafe added:

“With statistics detailing the attainment gap of black students compared to their white counterparts, and black pre-registration pharmacy students (now called trainee pharmacists) performing “significantly less well” in the registration exam compared to other ethnic groups, it certainly can be very demotivating and discouraging for future black pharmacists.

This only becomes a harder ‘pill’ to swallow when there is a lack of diversity in the top positions in pharmacy. This is why it is important to recognise and celebrate black leaders in pharmacy. It is a crucial day for pharmacy students and pharmacists alike to see the diverse achievements of black leaders in pharmacy and gives the opportunity to see the amazing progress and success possible for pharmacists. Seeing and celebrating black leaders in pharmacy is inspiring and encouraging to black students by seeing ‘someone similar to them’ in leadership positions.

Notable black leaders in pharmacy include Elsy Gomez Campos, President of the PDA BAME Network and president of the UK Black Pharmacists Association. More recently Dr Bahijja Raimi-Abraham founded King’s College London Fight the Fakes– a campaign aiming to raise awareness about the dangers of fake medicines. She authors many publications as well as leads her own research group ‘The Raimi-Abraham Group’ and a weekly podcast called Monday Science. These leaders in pharmacy encourage students like me to see themselves in successful positions, and days like Black Leaders Awareness Day help raise their profile and shine a light on their amazing contributions to the Health Sector.”

The PDA BAME Network works to enable all Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic pharmacists to realise their full potential and raise their profile by being educationally, socially and politically active. For more information about the network and how you can get involved, click here.

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