MONROVIA-A Pharmacist is a health professional who knows the composition, properties, interactions, and proper use of medications. The pharmacist provides pharmaceutical information and clinical advice to the physician, the public, and pharmaceutical care to patients.
To effectively carry out these functions, pharmacists study for four years to earn a BSc.They major either in biology or chemistry compared to anyone who aspires to be a doctor. Afterward, one can decide to enroll in the school of pharmacy for four years or the school of medicine for five years to become a General Pharmacy Practitioner (GPP) or a Doctor (General Practitioner (GP).
When acknowledging health workers in the Liberian health sector, the reference is to physicians and nurses. Sadly, policymakers ignore the cardinal roles of pharmacists.
A key observation to note here is the failure of the national political system and even those at the helm of power managing the health sector to recognize pharmacists as stakeholders in our health care delivery system. The ostracism of a professionally trained and strategic group of health workers is now to the extent that policymakers and human resources managers don’t serve pharmacists what they deserve. Such treatment must stop!
Let me provide two of copious reasons to inform whom it may concern why the ostracism of pharmacists in Liberia must stop. Firstly, when considering the cost of running a hospital, you will ultimately realize that drug and medical supplies jointly form a significant portion of the hospital spending. Secondly, drugs and medical supplies are the primary sources of revenue generation for the hospital.
With this, is it not ridiculously discriminating and denigrating for a pharmacist who in addition to others duties, is the custodian of hundreds of thousands of US dollars’ worth products being paid 500 US dollar or less while his counterpart medical doctor makes 3,000 plus US dollars? The comparison is like paying one of two managers of a diamond bag a security guide check at the end of the month. At first, the argument for underpaying a pharmacist was that pharmacists do not want to specialize.
The trend is not currently the case. There are close to two hundred pharmacists with over twenty specialist pharmacists. They include clinical pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, pharmacognosy/natural products scientists, public health scientists and a toxicologist. All of these specialists have significant roles to play in their respective assigned areas in our health sector. Sadly, the health system managers see them not to be deserving of a well-paid check. Do you want to see a strike action from pharmacists before you act? It is time to act sincerely and give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
Alvin G. Grugbaye, Bsc, BPharm, MSc
He is a specialist, pharmacist (Toxicologist), Deputy Director Complementary Medicine MOH, Member (toxicologist); Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC); Liberia Medicine and Health Product Regulatory Authority (LMHRA)
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