162391 Building pharmaceutical sector capacity in Namibia: An innovative initiative to recruit and retain pharmacy staff for public service

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 9:30 AM

Jude Nwokike, MS , Rational Pharmaceutical Management Plus Program, Management Sciences for Health, Arlington, VA
David Mabirizi, MD, MBA , Rational Pharmaceutical Management Plus Program, Management Sciences for Health, Windhoek, Namibia
Sameh Saleeb, MD , Rational Pharmaceutical Management Plus Program, Management Sciences for Health, Arlington, VA
Sub-Saharan countries are suffering urgent shortages of health workers. In Namibia, a lack of public-sector pharmaceutical staff is particularly acute; about 80% of pharmacists work in the lucrative private sector. In addition, Namibia has no professional pharmacy training available; pharmacists are trained abroad or come from other countries to fill positions. A country assessment identified the lack of human resources as a key constraint to scaling-up key health programs such as antiretroviral therapy.

RPM Plus worked with the MoHSS to increase the number of qualified pharmaceutical staff in public service by identifying priority vacant positions and delineating needed roles and responsibilities—ranging from national pharmaceutical quantification and logistic specialists to regional and hospital pharmacists. To expedite recruitment, RPM Plus works with a local Namibian human resource firm to recruit and hire new staff to fill government vacancies, while the U.S. Agency for International Development provides financial support for the positions. Although not government employees, the new staff work within the government structure and under the supervision of the MoHSS. In two years, 28 new recruits doubled the number of government pharmaceutical staff, and none left for the private sector. To assure sustainability, the MoHSS agreed to eventually absorb the positions into the government system—64% of the new staff have already been added to public service. This innovative collaboration created a new mechanism to help the government quickly fill urgent personnel needs in the public pharmaceutical sector, while allowing it to gradually absorb the positions into its existing structure.

Learning Objectives:
List the challenges that Namibia faces in recruiting qualified pharmacists and pharmacist’s assistants for work in the public sector. Describe the collaboration between the Rational Pharmaceutical Management (RPM) Plus Program and Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) to develop an innovative mechanism to increase the number of pharmacy-related positions in support to priority health programs. Discuss the ways that the partners have worked to assure the sustainability of this capacity-building initiative.

Keywords: Drugs, Developing Countries

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.