Pharmacy Leaders of Malaysia: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed obtained his Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) from Universiti Sains Malaysia Malaysia (USM) in 1992 and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from the University of Tennessee (UT), Memphis, U.S.A. in 1996. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UT before joining USM from 10 November 1997 until 30 October 2005. Since then, he joined the the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), holding the Head of Department and Deputy Dean (Academic Affair) posts, before being appointed as Dean of Centre for Foundation Studies since January 2018.

Dr. Haniki has been actively involved in tobacco control since 2001 especially as the coordinator of the first dedicated and multidisciplinary Quit Smoking Clinic for USM. Since then, he has been involved in various research projects with undergraduate and postgraduate students, especially those related to tobacco control.

His involvement in tobacco control includes being appointed as an advisor to the Clearinghouse for Tobacco Control (C-Tob) at the National Poison Centre, Penang, as well as a core team member by the Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia for the first national clinical practice guidelines (CPG) on Treatment of Tobacco Smoking and Dependence, and Chairman of the CPG on Tobacco Use Disorder 2016. Dr. Haniki is also a chief coordinator of the Certified Smoking Cessation Service Provider (CSCSP) programme – jointly organized by the Ministry of Health Malaysia and Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS). He is also appointed by the Hon. Minister of Health Malaysia as committee member for the technical working group on shisha and e-cigarettes, expert panel on e-cigarettes, Health Technology Assessment expert (smoking cessation), vice chairman of Translating Evidence Towards Tobacco Control Policy committee.

Dr. Haniki has also been presented at multiple meetings on tobacco control, participated at various workshops on tobacco control, published in various journals, magazines, bulletins, newspapers, received multiple awards including completion of a certification programme in International Global Tobacco Control (IGTC) from Johns Hopkins University. He also received the Alumni Award for excellence in tobacco control research 2012. Currently he is appointed by the Ministry of Health Malaysia as primary investigator of the National e-cig Survey 2016.

SwipeRx: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us, Professor Haniki. Can you tell us more about your path as a pharmacy professional and the milestones that defined where you are today?

Mohamad Haniki: Long story short, I started as an undergraduate in Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), before pursuing my degree in Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, USA. After I finished my PharmD in 1996, I did my post-doctorate, researching pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics differences of salbutamol in African Americans and Caucasians asthmatics.


SwipeRx: Did anything surprise you during the course of your research?

Mohamad Haniki: Many of the patients enrolled in my study were surprisingly smokers. As a clinical pharmacist, I advised them, “You are an asthmatic – you cannot be smoking. It will aggravate your disease.” They then asked me whether there were any medications to help them quit smoking. I realised that I needed to look further into the matter, as I did not learn much about smoking cessation during my education.


SwipeRx: So how did you explore this issue further?

Mohamad Haniki: Upon getting back and joining Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1997, I enrolled myself in various training programmes in tobacco control under the Ministry of Health as well as tobacco control conferences and workshops, including the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Helsinki. I quickly saw a need for pharmacists to have more knowledge and skills related to tobacco control, especially smoking cessation.

In order to train others about smoking cessation and help smokers quit effectively, I spearheaded the setting up of the first dedicated and multidisciplinary quit smoking clinic (QSC) in USM, which comprised of a physician, a nurse, and myself, a pharmacist. We used the available evidence from international clinical practice guidelines on how to help people quit smoking, and used the clinic as a training site. Our clinic was awarded the best QSC in Penang for the year 2003 in conjunction with the World No Tobacco Day celebration. At the same time, I initiated the Certified Smoking Cessation Service Provider (CSCSP) programme, jointly organized by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, Malaysian Academy of Pharmacy (MAP), Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) and a pharmaceutical company. My team and I conducted workshops all over Malaysia to provide healtcare professionals, especially pharmacists, additional knowledge and skills on pharmacological and behavioural interventions for the provision of smoking cessation intervention.

Realising that there was an urgent need for a local CPG on tobacco use, the Ministry of Health gathered a team of experts to come up with the the first clinical practice guidelines (CPG) on the management of tobacco dependence and use. We managed to publish the CPG in 2003 and I was the main contributor for the pharmacological section of the CPG.
In 2004 we launched the online CSCSP module via the MAP website to reach a wider coverage and also provide pharmacists with continuing professional development (CPD) points.
Upon finishing my contract at USM in 2005 I moved to the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) where I continue to conduct training and research in tobacco control as well as teaching both under and post-graduate students. It was then I became the chairman of the second clinical practice guidelines on tobacco use disorder.


SwipeRx: Can you tell us more about how you developed the clinical practice guidelines?

Mohamad Haniki: When I realized there was an opportunity to update the 2003 clinical practice guidelines on tobacco use and dependence, I asked the relevant person at the Tobacco Control Unit, “Can Malaysian Academy of Pharmacy update the CPG in collaboration with the Ministry of Health?” So I became a pharmacist heading this group, and I was very excited because I know this effort was one that would impact policy. It took a lot of both online and offline meetings. And while this takes so much time, it never feels like work because I’ve found people who share the same passion. For example, as a result of this role, I also became the vice chairman for the documentation of translating the evidence toward tobacco control policy in Malaysia. In addition, I was appointed by the Hon. Minister of Health Malaysia as committee member for the technical working group on shisha and e-cigarettes, expert panel on e-cigarettes by the Health Technology Assessment expert (smoking cessation) and awarded grants to conduct a national survey on the prevelance of e-cig use among Malaysian adults. In between all these activities, I keep on conducting training for health professionals via the CSCSP programme.

So I’m really passionate about learning, even when at this juncture, they ask, “Why are you still learning?” I tell them that knowledge is limitless, and I hope there will always be opportunities for me to share my knowledge and skills with other fellow pharmacists.

SwipeRx: Is the training that you have done primarily reactive or proactive?

Mohamad Haniki: It’s a mixture of both. As the principal of the Malaysian Academy of Pharmacy, I saw the potential of pharmacists to provide the service to the Malaysian community at large, so we hkeep doing both face-to-face and web-based training.

In Malaysia, we have around 4 to 5 million adult smokers and the prevalence is high, particularly among our adult men, around 45 to 50%, or almost half of all males. That’s why there is an obligation for healthcare professionals to provide these services, and pharmacists must be accessible, knowledgeable, and approachable. Through the Certified Smoking Cessation Service Provider (CSSSP), Ii they manage to pass the quiz, they will get the certification to provide the service. It’s still ongoing and to date more than 7000 pharmacists have taken the CSSSP, and a full ten to twenty percent are level 2 certified, which means they have the credential to provide the service under the MQuit initiative of the Ministry of Health.


SwipeRx: Do most pharmacists employ both reactive and proactive anti-smoking strategies?

Mohamad Haniki: Some are proactive. Unfortunately, most are reactive. We need to change this trend because under the Ministry of Health, the national strategic plan for tobacco control aims to have Malaysia be a smoke-free country by 2045. This would mean the smoking prevalence is less than 5%. Currently it’s 23%.

This is a big reduction needed in the number of current smokers and it requires the full engagement of all stakeholders in healthcare, including pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. This initiative would be driven by certified pharmacists under Malaysia’s Quit Smoking program, MQuit, which recognizes CSSSP as a pathway for training, since the modules can be used by any healthcare professional. There is also level 3 for CSSSP, which indicates that the person is a specialist in smoking cessation and has attained the level of a subject matter expert. This is in the pipeline now.


SwipeRx: When you started your career, did you think you would be focusing on smoking cessation?

Mohamad Haniki: I thought I would primarily be working at a hospital as a clinical pharmacist and teaching students as well. I’m doing that now, but I also have this unique opportunity since smoking or tobacco use is related to more than 20 diseases, I can always identify if he or she is a smoker or exposed to second-hand smoke, and I can include the necessary intervention in my responsibilities as a clinical pharmacist.

So, what I want to share with my fellow pharmacists and future pharmacists is that there’s always opportunity for you to specialize in an area that may be uncharted waters or maybe is already even considered done, but you can always explore something deeper, if you’re passionate enough.


SwipeRx: That’s great! And for yourself, what are you doing to continue to learn?

Mohamad Haniki: I recently took a certification programme at the Johns Hopkins-Bloomberg, on global tobacco control. So I’m really passionate about learning, even when at this juncture, they ask, “Why are you still learning?” I tell them that knowledge is limitless, and I hope there will always be opportunities for me to share my knowledge and skills with other fellow pharmacists.

I still go around the country providing workshops because I see that there are always new pharmacists, so it’s important to upgrade their knowledge. Malaysia is in need of more professionals who can provide services to address the current tobacco epidemic.


SwipeRx: Lastly, how can we leverage technology to facilitate learning and knowledge sharing?

Mohamad Haniki: I’m trying to do that in my role as an academic. As the head of the Malaysian Academy of Pharmacy, I want to persuade healthcare professionals, especially pharmacists, to elevate their professionalism through the embrace of technology. I think others in a position of influence can definitely do the same.

SwipeRx: Professor Haniki, thank you again for the time! We look forward to sharing your story with the SwipeRx community!