Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica

Pharmacists seek to discuss manpower shortage with health minister

THE Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ) said it will be seeking a meeting with Health Minister Ruddy Spencer to discuss the critical shortage of pharma-cists in the public health sector, in light of the increased demand for pharmaceutical services since the abolition of user fees in April.

“We face a shortage in the public sector and our pharmacists are challenged with the increase in the number of people at public health facilities, and so we are in the process of requesting another meeting to speak with the minister,” Verna Edwards, newly re-elected president of the Pharmaceutical Society – which represents private and public sector pharmacies – told the Observer. “What we want to see is an increase in the number of pharmacists we presently have in the sector and to be able to serve the public.”

There are approximately 60 pharmacists working in the island’s approximately 27 public hospitals and more than 200 health centres and clinics.

While she was not able to say how many more pharmacist are needed, Edwards said the PSJ will be able to determine that number following an ongoing reclassification programme.

In April, when the public health user fees were abolished, Spencer reported a 100 per cent increase in the demand for pharmaceutical services in some facilities.

According to Spencer, the numbers at the Kingston Public Hospital have almost doubled – from 170 to 300 as of April 14 – while the Spanish Town Hospital’s figures jumped from 120 to 250.

Similarly, he said the figures at the Comprehensive Health Centre in Kingston moved from 90 to over 150 daily and the St Ann’s Bay Hospital saw an increase in prescriptions dispensed from 120 to 190 per day.

Last week, Spencer said the ministry decided to increase the cadre of persons working as technicians to allow pharmacists to do more clinical work and to reduce turnaround time and improve the quality of pharmaceutical services.

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