E-drug: Brain drain of pharmacists (cont'd)
Thanks Libby for starting the "answer to the problem" session. I think
some interesting proposals have come up.
1. Yes to VSO etc. But they are short term solution and unless it is for
a significant time (to allow for understanding of country situation and
culture) they may not be that useful. Depending also on their training,
they may not always have the skills required in the developing
countries. For example, we struggle with issues around managing
drug supply. Those trained on the drug therapy outcome ie one-to-
one interaction would have excellent performance in the wards but
then the drugs may not be in the pharmacy!
2. Bonding for 2-3 years. The upside that this will ensure at least
some service from graduates. The down side is that the public sector
will be essentially a training ground as it will be getting the least
experienced people and when they are experienced, they leave. A
national and international understanding where there would be a
requirement to show release from the government may help to
enforce this without limiting people's freedom to look for greener
pastures. Can this be an undertaking of the professional bodies and
association eg CPA and FIP?
3. Pay pharmacist well. Where this is possible, it is one way. However
I do not think that there is a deliberate practice to pay pharmacists
poorly. It is simply that the countries cannot afford the wage bill. Even
allowances, cars, housing etc have a $ sign. I think we should
increase the income of pharmacist by widening the scope of their
work which brings me to a fourth proposal:
4. Increase the pharmaceutical cadre and have pharmacists
supervise. We need to re-look at the roles of pharmacy technicians
and pharmacy assistants. These are people who usually stay in the
country but they can do much of the basic tasks PROVIDED there is
supervision. What would happen if instead of having no pharmacist at
all in a hospital (as is often the case) we have at least some
pharmaceutically-trained person on site and a supervising pharmacist
who gets paid for his/her services by several hospitals? Even the
"duka la dawa" , "patent drug shops", "medical stores" etc would be
required to have a supervising pharmacist and pay for the service!
(Even paracetamol is a drug!!)
The profession could then set standards and protocols for the
practice and the supervision instead of protecting professional "turfs"
as it sometimes happens. It would also mean a change in the training
given to pharmacists to match with the tasks required of them.
All these may need some working but at least they are a beginning.
Have I provoked someone? Reactions?
Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network
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