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Pharmacists recruitment drive after Botswana nurses refuse to fill scripts

After nurses in Botswana stopped filling prescriptions last month, the country is aiming to recruit at least 1 000 pharmacists, including from abroad, to ease the congestion at pharmacies.

Some patients have been unable to get their medications at all, reports The Observer, prompting the government to look at hiring nurses form outside the country to fill the void and avert what it acknowledges is a health crisis.

Assistant Health Minister Sethumo Lelatisitswe said that despite employing about 100 pharmacists over the past month, the shortage is still critical.

“We have only a few pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the market,” he said. “In the coming weeks, we would have exhausted local recruitment, and still not been able to replace all of the nurses and midwives who have been dispensing medications since the birth of our health system. Our local tertiary institutions do not produce enough pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to fulfil these needs.”

Botswana Nurse Union vice-president responsible for labour Oreeditse Kelebakgosi said it was unlawful for nurses to dispense medication, and “only proper for the government to recruit pharmacists”.

However, Lelatisitswe said it would not be an easy task, and that close to 1 000 workers were needed to “have all our clinics and health facilities adequately covered”.

“Given the shortage of these professionals … it may take up to five years.”

HIV activist Bonosi Segadimo said the pharmacist shortage would have a negative impact on the distribution of ARV drugs. Botswana has among the world’s highest HIV prevalence, with nearly 21% of the adult population living with the virus.


The Observer article – Botswana seeks to recruit 1,000 pharmacists from abroad (Open access)


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