- Tuesday, July 12, 2011
- Pharmacy practice in occupied Palestinian territory: reality and difficulties
- Published at:The Lancet Journal
The pharmacist is an essential part of the health-care system in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), providing advice and guidance to patients. The reality and difficulties of pharmacy practice in the oPt are not supported by any data. The aim in this study was to draw attention to the reality, and describe the pharmacy profession in the area.
Reports at the central office of the Pharmaceutical Association, Jerusalem, West Bank, which describes the pharmacy workforce in the oPt, and the Nablus office (largest branch office) were reviewed. Key individuals—secretary of the Pharmaceutical Association, head of pharmaceutical policy and pricing department at the Ministry of Health, and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy at An-Najah National University, West Bank—were interviewed. The main questions were what are the main problems in the pharmacy practice; who is responsible for the problem; what are you doing to resolve the problem; and what are your recommendations to improve pharmacy practice.
The oPt has 4745 pharmacists with a density of 12·4 per 10 000 population compared with WHO’s target of five pharmacists per 10 000 population. One community pharmacy serves 3100 people compared with WHO’s target of 5000. About 82 (11%) of 723 pharmacists in Nablus are unemployed, and 245 (34%) of 723 work in community pharmacies. Women make up most of the pharmacy workforce in Nablus. The key individuals stated that the numbers of pharmacists and pharmacies are higher than the needs of the pharmacy practice in the oPt, there is a lack of employment opportunities for the pharmacists, and pharmacists should comply with laws and regulations (eg, owner of a pharmacy must be a pharmacist, individual dispensing the drugs should be a pharmacist or a pharmacist assistant, and pharmacists have to adhere to the drug pricing set by the Ministry of Health and pharmaceutical association).
The increase in the number of pharmacists in the oPt needs to be matched by the number of employment opportunities for them, in addition to the creation of continuous learning programmes.