“This program serves a great need in the community, and it has helped me, providing education and job opportunities. I love my job.”

– Aaron, Pharmacy Assistant,  Lumbadzi Health Center, Malawi

Pharmacy Assistant
Training Program

Addressing a Shortage of Qualified Personnel

Malawi, like many low- and middle-income countries, has a critical shortage of pharmacy personnel.  Government health centers have very limited access to trained pharmacy personnel. This leads to unqualified personnel managing medicines and supply chain and dispensing to patients, which impacts patient care and medicine availability.

In 2012, in collaboration with our partners, and with support from the Barr Foundation, USAID | DELIVER PROJECT, and Vitol Foundation, VillageReach launched a two-year Pharmacy Assistant Training Program at the Malawi College of Health Sciences with a strong emphasis on supply chain management and hands-on, experiential learning.  The program provides immediate benefit to  hospitals and health centers to address these human resource constraints.

“The Pharmacy Assistant Training Program is a big relief to clinicians working in rural and remote health centers. I hope that this program continues to grow as it is filling a critical need.
Thank you, VillageReach, their partners and donors who make the program possible.”

– Andrew Hauli (Health Center Manager) Nyungwe Health Center, Malawi


During this two-year program, students complete two,  five-month practicums in between classroom-based learning. Not only are students trained to dispense life-saving medications and provide patients with essential advice; they also gain the  skills to effectively manage inventory to ensure that the medications and supplies their communities need are actually available.

  • PA graduates work in 25+ of Malawi’s 28 districts.
  • During practicum training, PA students support over 50 district hospitals and health centers, making immediate improvements in storeroom management, LMIS reporting, and dispensing practices
  • Alternating classroom and practicum-based training allows for as many as 100 new students to enroll annually.
  • The MOH has stated the need for 650 Pharmacy Assistants


The following data represents preliminary results based on M & E data collected on a monthly basis.

Pharmaceutical Practice: The average score for appropriate dispensing—including giving proper instructions on how to take medication and possible side effects—increased by 19 percentage points (from 41% to 60%).

Data Quality:  The accuracy of stock on hand and consumption data reported  increased by 17 percentage points (from 55% percent report accuracy to 73%).

Storeroom Management: The average score for appropriate health center storeroom management – including organizing medicines by “First to Expire, First Out” – increased by 7 percentage points (from 72% to 79%).

Time Spent on Logistics: Clinical staff time at health centers spent on logistics tasks decreased by an average of 39 hours per month (from 48 hours to 9).

An independent evaluation is currently being conducted by University of Washington Global Medicines Program with results expected EOY 2016.  IMPACT STUDY PROTOCOL



The health center in-charges at practicum sites report substantial improvements in patient flow, decreases in waiting time, and relief from logistics and dispensing duties since the students arrived at their assigned health centers.

From the Field

Andrew Hauti

“I am a clinician by profession, serving a population of over 30, 000…”

Andrew’s Story

PA student photo

My journey to the pharmacy assistant training program

One Student’s Story

“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.”

-Andrew Hauli, Health Center In-Charge


Newsletter Sign Up

By providing your email address you agree to receive periodic email news from VillageReach.

Support Health Care for All

Your tax deductible contribution helps to increase health care availability to reach the most under-reached.

Donate Today

Malawi healthcare worker