Pharmacy Practice in Uganda

This past week the students and I spent 2 and 1/2 days at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala talking to the pharmacy interns and going on bedside rounds with the team of physicians and medical interns to learn more about the common healthcare problems and methods of treatment.  The hospital only has 5 full pharmacists so most of the day to day work of dispensing the proper medications and assuring safe medication use is handled by the pharmacy interns who have graduated from a School of Pharmacy and have passed their eligibility exams to practice pharmacy.  They have to put in 1 full year of service before they can finally take their licensure exam and practice completely independently as pharmacists.  Mulago is definitely a “teaching” institution. While I was on rounds with the Chief Neurologist, he had a captive audience of about 15 people, including me and 2 of my students, and was actively engaging us all in conversation about the diagnosis and treatment of the patient.  It turns out that the boy of 16 had a pituitary tumor and required hormone-related medications to survive but he had stopped taking them 3-4 weeks earlier because the family ran out of money.   We also had the opportunity to visit a Community Pharmacy in Kampala where one of the pharmacy interns works as well as one of the students of Makerere School of Pharmacy’s Masters of Science in Pharmaceutical Supplies Management.  As you can see from the picture, it had a well organized and appealing design. Two things that were different from our pharmacies is that all of the medications were behind glass- clients have to ask for everything- and there doesn’t need to be a pharmacist present for dispensing to occur. Each pharmacy must have a supervising pharmacist but because there are too few pharmacists too fill the needs, each pharmacist can supervise 2 drug stores. This means that they will need to split their time between each.  In addition, right now there is no ability to log prescriptions into a computer and electronically create a label.  All medications are dispensed in envelopes with a handwritten label.

About kbohan

Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Pharmacy Practice Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Binghamton, NY USA
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