April 27, 2016: A Blog Post by Casey
One of the Ugandan Pharmacists that Dr. Bohan brought to the USA to teach last summer, Gonsha, owns 2 pharmacies in Kampala. A few weeks ago we ventured out to visit one of her pharmacies. Makenzie and Kassi went one day and Lauren and I went the next. Upon arrival we were introduced to the staff and received a tour. Medications are arranged by disease state here, which we found very interesting. Back home medications are arranged in alphabetical order. Another thing we found interesting is that a pharmacist does not need to be present at all times in the pharmacy; as long as there is a pharmacy technician in the pharmacy to dispense medications the pharmacy can operate. I’ve been working in a community pharmacy for 3 years now and I’ve only seen my pharmacist leave the pharmacy to go to the bathroom, and they were never gone for very long.
When patients come into the pharmacy they do not need a prescription to pick up medications. They simply tell the technician or pharmacist what medication they want, the amount they want and pay for it out of pocket. There is no limit on the amount of medication they can receive. However, a big limiting factor here is the price-most patients have to pay for prescriptions out of pocket. Back home then would never fly. Here if a pharmacy turns a patient away because they do not have a prescription the patient will just leave and walk to the next closest pharmacy in order to receive their medications. Gonsha actually told us about only 3% of patients come into the pharmacy with a prescription. (mind blown AND disturbed)
While we were at the pharmacy Lauren and I did blood pressure screenings. The patients could understand English but couldn’t understand us because of our American accent so Gonsha had to help translate for us. We talked to them about the importance of taking their chronic hypertensive medication. Many patients here stop their anti-hypertensive medication(s) once their blood pressure is controlled. Makenzie and Kassi counseled a patient on how to correctly take their omeprazole. The patient came in complaining of stomach ulcers and stated he was taking his omeprazole three times a day. They explained to him how he only needs to take his medication once a day and if he is having problems he should go see his doctor.