When I arrived in Yida, I was briefed by all the various section heads, i.e. the head nurse, administration, logistics, project coordinator, and medical referent. My predecessor had already left, so I missed my ten day handover schedule and so must learn on the job. I’ll be working with two amazing national staff members in the pharmacy. They have both been working with MSF for the past three years and are very knowledgeable about the structure and how to run the pharmacy. They are my teachers and I’m a humble student navigating my way through the pharmacy software, analysis, Excel, Excel, and more Excel. Yes, I said that three times. Before going in-depth with the pharmacy stuff, I’ll briefly describe the hospital setting.
At the moment, the MSF hospital is the only one within the camp that provides specialized inpatient services and some outpatient services. The hospital comprises an inpatient ward (IPD), outpatient ward (OPD), emergency room (ER or red tent), inpatient therapeutic feeding center, triage section, lab, sterilization (for equipment), and vaccination unit. Since this is the dry season, the workload is not as hectic as in the rainy season, when there could be outbreaks of malaria, and kala azar. The pharmacy is in charge of procuring the medical items for all these units, plus drugs and vaccines. Most of the drugs and medical items are in the main pharmacy (a permanent structure). The rest of our items are in a tented pharmacy with air conditioning, a cold chain room, and more items in another tent.
The main pharmacy.
The tent pharmacy. It's pretty cool inside with the AC powered by a generator.
As the project pharmacist, I have to work closely with the national staff and medical and logistic team to make sure drugs, vaccines, and medical items are supplied and used wisely. This means close monitoring of the overall pharmacy stock, various units consumption, expiry, and under and overstocked items. MSF has prescribing protocol, which helps streamline the prescriptions, hence there is no need to worry about a novel new drug that just came out last month… :-).
Planning, estimation, approximation, and calculation, are all terms frequently used to make sure supply of stock for the next six months arrives on time. Six months lead time. Yes, it’ll take six months to order internationally before the drugs sit on my shelf. Since MSF strives to provide good quality care to patients, meticulous care is taken to ensure that only quality products are ordered.
Since I missed the standard handover from my predecessor, I had to learn fast and I’m sure my team felt the need to wait a bit before passing along the key to the pharmacy. Having the key means you are officially on-call as needed. And it’s so great that our compound is right next to the hospital, so it’ll take less than five minutes for me to show up. So I’m ready to handle my key . . . :-).