I find it interesting to learn about the profession of pharmacy in the various countries where I have worked. In Swaziland, I was one of 33 pharmacists (remember it’s a small country). In Gaza the joke is that one out of every four people is a pharmacist (the school is convenient, the cost is reasonable, there is the time to go to school). Unfortunately the number of jobs for pharmacists in Gaza is very limited so a posting for one pharmacist might result in 250 applications! And, honestly, I have no idea how it worked in South Sudan.
In Liberia, The School of Pharmacy is located at the University of Liberia here in Monrovia. To gain admission into the school of pharmacy you must have a four year degree with a science focus and pharmacy school is another four years in the classroom followed by a year-long internship. Twenty nine pharmacists graduated at The 15th Oath and Honors ceremony in December 2013, bringing the total number of pharmacists in the country to 129. There is no advanced degree in pharmacy here but the Dean of the college has been working on a proposal to change that. With the arrival of Ebola, all of that is on hold and all schools are closed.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet the National Drug Service as well as the pharmacist at the Regulatory Authority about our distribution project and gain approval for use of the medications we brought into the country. The meetings were straightforward and it seems that a partnership focused on how we can help the people of Monrovia is a common goal. That’s always a good thing!!
I was impressed to read that Pharmacists and Pharmacy students took the initiative to spend a few days in August going to the drug stores in the Monrovia area to talk to the staff about Ebola including the precautions to take to protect themselves and the community as well as to dispel myths about the virus.
The initiative, led by the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia, was focused on drug stores as that is often the first stop someone makes when they feel ill, placing the staff at high risk for exposure. Another undertaking related to pharmacy is the medicine control authority’s inspection of pharmacies to ensure that drug counterfeiters are not bringing fake Ebola products on to the market. It’s nice to see this focus on pharmacies and the appreciation for the role the profession plays in the crisis.