I am a clinician by profession, serving a population of over 30, 000 in the 25 villages that my health center serves. I am the only clinician at the health facility with a single nurse to assist covering when possible. We recently lost the only health surveillance assistant that was trained as a drug clerk as she has left to pursue a one and a half year course in midwifery. This leaves me as the only clinician and also the only person to manage stocks in the medicine store (pharmacy). I undertake the majority of dispensing responsibilities as the hospital attendants that sometimes need to fill this role are not knowledgeable about medicines. When it’s month end, I am also responsible for doing the physical inventory and producing a monthly report. Each of these tasks requires time away from my primary responsibility of treating patients. This results in less time with patients, and inadequate reporting of essential information required to manage inventory. For example, I am not sure the reports that I send are even a true representation of the situation on the ground due to the limited time I have to devote to this task.
I am completely relieved to have this additional workload of dispensing and inventory management taken over by those specially trained to do the job through the introduction of the Pharmacy Assistant Training Program. Through this program, our health center receives one student who has already received training in the areas of dispensing and inventory management – more training than anyone currently working at the health center, including myself.
The Pharmacy Assistant Training program is a very exceptional program because it is practicum- oriented. The student assigned to our health center the past five months is already doing an amazing job. I am no longer dispensing, or dealing with supply chain issues other than approving issues and orders. Now, I am able to see more patients in a day, and provide more thorough examinations.
This program is a big relief to us clinicians working in the rural and remote health centers. I am already getting calls from fellow in charges (Health Center Managers) who are enquiring on how they can get a placement at their facility.
This is such an amazing program which should not end at a few facilities, but expand to all the facilities in the country (Malawi). I would like to thank VillageReach, their partners and donors who make the Pharmacy Assistant Training Program possible. I hope that this program continues to grow as it is filling a critical need, and making a big difference that could change the way all rural health centers function- to the benefit of our patients, those in most need of care and attention.