Health workers - the backbone for improving access to medicines

Health workers - the backbone for improving access to medicines

 

  • Health workers 3
A general crisis of the health workforce in Tanzania is reflected in critical shortages of pharmacy staff at all levels of the public health system in Dodoma.

The situation analysis in 2011 showed that only 5 health facilities, notably hospitals employed a trained pharmacist, 7 facilities a pharmacy technician and 2 facilities a pharmacy assistant in 247 facilities surveyed. In 94% of health facilities medicines management is done by non-pharmaceutically trained cadres comprising nurses, medical attendants or clinical officers whose main task is clinical care of patients.

Task shifting is a reality in the pharmaceutical sector in Tanzania and its implementation occurs mainly as a coping mechanism to the existing human resources crisis rather than a deliberate policy response to the crisis. It is therefore imperative to support and train non-pharmaceutically trained health staff in supply management activities.

On the other hand, even though pharmaceutical staff is theoretically responsible for managing the supply chain, they are often overloaded with responsibilities and insufficiently involved in decision making and general health system activities. To offer them a forum and visibility, pharmacy meetings involving all pharmacy staff from the region are regularly convened to allow exchange of issues and challenges, discussion of strategies and relevant events and some CE input by the external experts. The meetings intend to motivate and engage pharmacy staff in the project from the beginning, to offer them a platform and a voice and to empower them to contribute to strengthening the health sector in Dodoma region.

 

The project started lobbying for more pharmaceutical staff based on the national establishment for staff allocation (staffing levels) to various health facilities by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The number of staff has increased from 14 in the year 2011 to 47 pharmaceutical staff in 2015.