The willingness of Health Ministry and DGHS top brass are important
The Health Ministry has once again opened the window for graduate pharmacists to be recruited at government hospitals.
On September 23, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare asked the Bangladesh Pharmacy Council to take proper action to recruit graduate pharmacists in vacant posts at the government hospitals.
A total of three circular were issued for recruiting graduate pharmacists or managerial tasks related to services provided by pharmacists.
In the second circular the ministry asked the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to recruit at least one indoor hospital pharmacist for every fifty beds or patients and one outdoor pharmacist for every hospital.
In another circular on the same day, the ministry asked the DGHS to establish a department or office under the directorate to maintain the managerial part related to graduate pharmacists.
This is not the first time the government has issued such a circular.
Feeling the importance of the role that pharmacists could play in the health sector, the ministry issued the first circular to recruit graduate pharmacists on November 4, 2018.
On January 20, 2019 the ministry issued a second circular but none have been implemented till now.
However, it is raising hope among the students and professionals of pharmacology this time.
Sensing the need for graduate pharmacists, especially during the Covid-19 crisis, the government has made the latest circulation keeping in m well being of the service seekers in this field, former vice president of Bangladesh Pharmacy Council Subhash Singh Roy said.
When contacted, DGHS Additional Director General Prof Nasima Sultana said she was not aware of the matter and declined to make any comment about it.
BPC Secretary Mahbubul Haq could not be reached over phone.
Hopes rise among 30,000 graduates
At present, some 2,740 posts exist for grade-11 pharmacists at government hospitals. Around 1,300 have been recruited, but the DGHS hospital or admin sections could not confirm how many posts have already been created for recruiting the graduate pharmacists.
Pharmacists who are to be recruited in grade-nine will be categorized as A grade pharmacists while grade-11 pharmacists are in B category of pharmacists, according to the Pharmacy Council.
Over 1,000 graduate every year
Every year, around 1,000 students graduate from public and private universities while the number of graduate professionals is more than 20,000. Therefore, there are around 30,000 professional fresh graduate pharmacists in the country at the moment.
Sadek Ahmed Sykat, general secretary (GS) of Bangladesh Pharmacist Forum (BPF), the organization that made it a struggle to ensure recruitment of pharmacists at hospitals, especially at clinical management, said the latest circulation is not a symbol of their effort but rather a realization of the government about the necessity of the professionals.
In Bangladesh, most jobs for pharmacists are given in drug companies, while their biggest job is in the clinical management at hospitals, he said
“The recent circular has energized the professionals to fulfil their dream that they are longing for. Practicing their knowledge at hospitals is clinical, especially when it is in the government hospitals, working for poor people is something like a dream come true,” Sadek added.
How will it benefit the health services sector?
Sadek said the recruitment will provide multi level benefit to the health services sector.
Firstly it will ensure a proper medication system for the patients that will help to avoid further complication which may arise through incorrect use of medicine, he said.
According to the President of Bangladesh Graduate Pharmacists Association (BGPA) Ishtiaque Ahmed, depending on geographical and health system management differences, several studies showed that 25% to 50% of patients suffer from long term health complications or even die due to the incorrect use of medications.
Sadek said as pharmacists work as gatekeepers in hospital medicine management, corruption related to medicine would be much lesser.
“Use of generic medicine would be ensured in the hospitals and corruption like selling of the medicine by hospital staff members to the medicine stores would be prevented, as a graduate pharmacist would be responsible to oversee such issues at hospital outdoors,” he added.
BGPA President Ishtiaque Ahmed who is also an adviser (Oncology) at Aristopharma Ltd said the most important part is that pharmacists would be working as the bridge between patients and doctors and will improve the relationship between them as well.
The role pharmacists play during an epidemic situation (when remedy is unknown) is more important as they are the ones who know about the ins and outs of medicines and their reactions on human bodies, he added.
Recruitment won’t be easy
DGHS said they are authorized to recruit pharmacists only in grade-11 and recruitment of ninth grade officials is a matter of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission.
Meanwhile, quoting the proposal accepted by the ministry, Sadek said every professional should have a hospital pharmacist intern certificate in order to be recruited which very few universities have been able to provide till now.
Dhaka University Pharmacology Faculty Dean Prof Abdur Rahman, also a member of Bangladesh Pharmacy Council said internships are very important to perform as hospital pharmacists.
Dhaka University started arranging internship programs for its students around three or four years back. Some other universities with Pharmacology departments will also start internship programs for its students, he added.
“Many of our students are doing well as clinical pharmacists abroad and we believe that our students (current and former) would not be any exception. Anything else they require will be provided by us (academicians) if needed,” the professor added.
“There must have been negligence from BPC, DGHS and the ministry that caused the previous circular from not being implemented,” he said, adding,“Right now what is needed more is the willingness of top officials of the Health Ministry and the DGHS, as the Covid-19 pandemic is going on.”