Papua New Guinea will soon have trained pharmacy assistants working in rural health facilities throughout the country to help provide pharmaceutical services in rural areas.
More than 75 students from five nominated Provincial Health Authorities in the country have begun an 18-month Certificate in Basic Pharmacy Management (CBPM) training program, developed to address the pharmaceutical needs of rural health facilities.
The pioneer program has been developed jointly by the University of Papua New Guinea’s Open College, the Discipline of Pharmacy at the University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Pharmaceutical Services Standards Branch of the Health Department following a medical supplies impact evaluation conducted in the country in 2013.
The impact evaluation indicated a low availability of essential medicines, inadequate information and information gaps in the supply chain of medicines, particularly to the rural health facilities thus the need for the development of such training program.
The evaluation also discovered that although many facilities were making good use of the essential medicines available, there was still need for improvement to achieve quality storage, handling and rational usage of medicines.
The Certificate in Basic Pharmacy Management is studied through the distance education mode and is aimed at training pharmacy assistants who can work independently and deliver needed pharmaceutical services in the rural health facilities of the country such as district hospitals, health centres, community health posts and aid-posts.
The training program commenced in the first semester of 2016 and will end at the end of this year.
The pioneer pharmacy assistants will work in the five provinces where their Provincial Health Authorities had been nominated to pilot the training program. These PHA provinces include Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Milne Bay, Western and Sandaun (West Sepik).
The program aims to increase enrolment in subsequent years to train up to 1900-plus pharmacy assistants to cover all the health centres and community health posts in the country.
Admission into the program is by prior selection by the respective PHAs and applicants must have completed grade 12 with a minimum of C grades in at least two science courses.
In the Western Highlands, 19 students from the four districts of Hagen Central, Tambul/Nebilyer, Mul/Baiyer/Lumusa and Dei had been selected and sat for their final exams on 12th October 2017.
An Officer from the Pharmacy Discipline of UPNG’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ms Rosewitha Iannes was present to supervise the examination which was conducted at Mt Hagen Hospital’s Training Classroom.
The CBPM program is funded mainly by the National Department of Health and partly in collaboration with the respective Provincial Health Authorities.