Minister hears pharmacy graduates still awaiting placement

first_imgAddressing staff shortages at West Dem HospitalBy Shemuel FanfairAfter roughly a year of completing studies and the required internship programme, several pharmacists are still waiting to be placed at health institutions.This was discovered during a top-level meeting with Minister within the PublicThe West Demerara Regional HospitalHealth Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings and officials in Region Three (Essequibo-Islands-West Demerara) last week. The meeting, which was held at the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH), sought to iron out a number of issues which are affecting health-care delivery in the district.Medical Superintendent and acting Regional Health Officer, Dr Bibi Jabar informed the Junior Public Health Minister that the pharmacy at the WDRH would open until 20:00h. And Inter-Ministerial Sector Coordinator within the Public Health Ministry, Mr Seewchan related that the Ministry was currently undertaking measures to ensure that the Hospital operated a 24-hour pharmacy service. He also explained that to this end, the Public Health Ministry has been working with the representative from the ministerial secretariat to have the requisite positions filled.The Parfaite Health Centre is one of the medical facilities that require a pharmacy assistantSeewchan further observed that there were several university graduates who were available for the position of pharmacy assistant.“We have pharmacists who graduated, but they weren’t able to be placed into the institution; what needs to be done is that the Region [should have] an inventory [to identify the positions that need to be filled],” he noted.Responding to the staff shortage concerns, WDRH Administrator Sanjah Persaud highlighted that his office had already submitted requests via the Region to the Public Service Ministry for several positions to be filled. As such, Seewchan, the Ministry’s Inter-Ministerial Sector Coordinator, called on the Deputy Regional Executive Officer (DREO), Jennifer Ferreira-Dougall to have that process facilitated. Ferreira-Dougall disclosed that even before the start of her tenure in April, those requests were passed on to the relevant Ministry.“Maybe the Region can work with our national coordinator of pharmacy who can have those persons identified and placed in those positions. [We need] to have that process expedited. It [the pharmacy service] is not only for West Demerara and its environs,” Seewchan noted, saying that persons from riverine communities along the Essequibo would first stop at the West Demerara Hospital for medical care after travelling several miles.Seewchan highlighted the need for pharmacists to be paid good remuneration packages, and also noted that transportation incentives should be considered for those who have to travel far distances to their placements at centres and at the Hospital. The official expressed hope that the positions would be filled by October.Dr Cummings concurred, saying the West Demerara Hospital must be restored to its former glory as it had copped major awards in times past.“We are looking to improve the services, so people wouldn’t have to travel from Saxacalli and pass here and go till to Georgetown when you can stop right here,” she noted.In March, reports surfaced that the careers of several pharmacy graduates were on hold since they could not obtain their licences to practice. This had come following a delay in the students being admitted to an internship programme at the Georgetown Public Hospital.This newspaper had reported that the 2016 class of then prospective pharmacists had waited for months to commence their internship programme; however, it was stated that the Pharmacy Council was at the time unprepared to facilitate the process, which was originally slated to commence in January 2017.The Pharmacy Practitioners Act of 2003, under the Part VI section titled “Pharmacy Interns”, stipulates that University of Guyana graduates who have completed the Bachelor of Science Degree (Pharmacy) must complete an internship programme of not less than six months, before obtaining a licence to practice as a professional Pharmacist. The Council has the mandate to approve an appropriate institution at which the students can undertake the six-month programme.The students had called on Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence to intervene on their behalf.“We have spent four years of our lives studying hard to be pharmacists, because we have a passion for health-care provision. The Pharmacy Council, by their unconscionable delay, has prevented better health provision being provided to those patients in need of health care,” <<>> was told in March.Now that the internship has reportedly been completed, the graduates at this juncture are awaiting placement at medical facilities. According to information disclosed on Thursday last, the current non-placement of appointed pharmacists is not exclusive to Region Three.last_img read more