The Botswana Pharmacy Association (BPA) says drug management in the country is very chaotic and describes the problem as “dicing with death”.
Interviewed by The Sunday Standard, Mr. Lenard Masubilili, president of the association, said his organisation is very worried about the way in which drugs are being handled in the country, especially at public health facilities.
Masubilili said that, in some areas, cleaners dispense drugs and declared that this is completely wrong and harmful to the nation.
He said people should understand that drugs can cause internal bleeding if given a wrong prescription by a wrong person.
“Let me put the record straight; pharmacists are the ones who are responsible for dispensing drugs, not nurses, cleaners or any other officer who has not undergone training as a pharmacist.”
He said that the government is losing millions due to the fact that some health officers order more drugs than required, resulting in the drugs expiring before they are dispensed.
Masubilili said the association is aware of drugs that are illegally entering the country and added that this can cause disaster in the health system of the nation.
He said some of these drugs are allegedly found in private chemists because they want to make quick cash without considering the health of the nation.
He pointed out that there are some foreigners who claim to be pharmacists employed by either the government or the private sector, adding that such people have to be rooted out from the system.
When asked about the number of practicing qualified pharmacists, both local and expatriate, he said, “As for now, I do not have the proper records but the numbers are encouraging.
“As an association, we are also worried about the shortage of drugs in the public health sector.”
Masubilili said the Ministry of Health should be fully responsible for this embarrassing situation of drug shortages, adding that if our drugs were managed professionally, such problems would have being long resolved.
His association, he said, had decided to go on a country wide tour to preach how to handle drugs.
However, Masubilili conceded that he agreed with the Minister of Health that heads should roll at the Central Medical Stores.
He appealed to the nation to forward any complaints relating to drugs, including the dispensing of wrong drugs, to them and promised they would then take the matter up.
Sylvia Tumelo, the principal of the Institute of Health Services (IHS), said they are producing between 17 and 18 Pharmacists and lab technicians annually.
She said plains are underway to double the number of graduates and pointed out that IHS only offers diploma level while degree level is offered outside the country.