E-DRUG: Literature Review on pharmaceutical workforce
A couple of months ago I posted a message on e-drug asking for information
on the pharmaceutical workforce in sub-Saharan Africa for my Master Thesis.
You will find below the executive summary of the finalized paper. Please
feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in
the whole paper. I will be happy to send it to you as pdf-file.
c/o Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network EPN
Musa Gitau Road
P.O.Box 73860 - 00200
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Distribution of and Possible Retention-Strategies for Pharmacists and
Other Pharmaceutical Cadres in the Public and Private-Not-For-Profit
Sector. A literature review with focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
Master's thesis submitted to the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin,
Freie Universität and Humboldt Universität Berlin in partial fulfilment
of the requirements for the award of a Master of Science Degree in
Pharmacists are the third largest group of health workers (FIP, 2006)
and play an important role within the health system with regard to
access to essential medicines, rational use of drugs and the provision
of high quality pharmaceuticals for the population. In line with these
aspects, the traditional pharmacist's role has changed toward a role
that increasingly focuses on pharmaceutical care (Awad et al., 2006).
Despite the global health workforce crisis, publications in reference to
the pharmaceutical workforce hardly exist.
This literature review aims at describing the workforce imbalances of
pharmacists and other pharmaceutical cadres in the public/not-for-profit
sector in sub-Saharan Africa and at assessing underlying factors and
proposed strategies to improve distribution and retention. The review
takes account of the changed professional role of pharmacists and
relates it to the workforce issues.
Due to the limited number of publications on the pharmaceutical
workforce, the review includes peer-reviewed articles as well as grey
The results illustrate characteristics of the pharmaceutical workforce.
Furthermore, factors contributing to the crisis and opinions of
pharmacists and pharmacy students concerning job satisfaction, retention
and migration are discussed.
This review shows clearly that the pharmacists' workforce is
experiencing a crisis similar to that of the overall health workforce
with comparable factors leading to the crisis. However, this review
reveals exceptional points which highlight the need of strategies to
improve the workforce situation being adapted to the pharmaceutical
First, lower level pharmaceutical cadres have been neglected and many
countries lack even national regulations on these workers. Yet, skill
balance is important for a well-functioning workforce as it facilitates
the delegation of tasks and saves scarce resources. Secondly,
pharmacists frequently reported to not being appreciated within the
health system and to facing difficulties concerning their professional
role. This resulted in frustration. A study by Viberg et al. (2007)
revealed that even among pharmacists diverse perceptions of their own
role existed. This underlines the need to not only clearly define the
role of pharmacists, but also to promote it among pharmacists
themselves, other health professionals and the population. Thirdly, the
review demonstrates that in contrast to other health workers the
majority of pharmacists are employed within the private sector. This
implies the possibility to minimise the shortage of pharmacists by the
outsourcing of services from the public to private sector pharmacists.
Finally, the importance of training of the pharmaceutical workforce in
reference to the described issues is illustrated.
This review not only offers an insight into the issue of the
pharmaceutical workforce and unique starting points to minimise the
workforce crisis, but also asks for regulations that ensure the proper
functioning of a well-balanced pharmaceutical workforce and underlines
the urgency of further research.