Minister says local tertiary institutions do not produce enough for the market and that it may takeup to five years to adequately close the gap
The public health system is facing an uphill battle in the recruitment of qualified pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, as the local tertiary institutions do not produce enough for the market, the Assistant Minister of Health (MoH), Sethomo Lelatisitswe, has said.
Addressing Parliament against the backdrop of the recent decision by the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) to stop midwives and nurses from dispensing medicines, the Assistant Minister said the government is facing an acute shortage of desired pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to close the gap in public health dispensaries. Lelatisitswe said that while the government recently embarked on a recruitment, they would still not be able to replace all nurses and midwives who have been dispensing medications since the inception of the local health system. To cover all the gaps left by the midwives and nurses in the medical dispensary service, Lelatisitswe said the government needs close to a thousand pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. So far, according to the Assistant Minister, more than 100 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have been recruited to help dispense medications in public health facilities.
5 years for govt to catch up
“In the coming weeks, we would have exhausted the Botswana market. However, we would still not have been able to replace all nurses and midwives who have been dispensing medications since the birth of our health system. Our local tertiary institutions do not produce enough pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who can be engaged to serve our people. We need close to a thousand pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to adequately cover all our clinics and health facilities. Given the shortage of these professionals in the market, including regionally as alluded, it may take up to five years to reach these numbers if we were to rely solely on the recruitment of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians,” Lelatisitswe told Parliament.
Recently, the nurses’ union made the decision to withdraw nurses and midwives from dispensing medications in public health facilities, citing a violation of ethics as the main reason. The Assistant Minister told Parliament that this development has negatively affected service delivery in public health facilities.
“ We need close to a thousand Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians to have all our clinics and health facilities adequately covered.” – Sethomo Lelatisitswe, Assistant Minister of Health (MoH)