Pharmacists to Down Tools if their Concerns Remain Unaddressed

By Amin Kef Sesay

A group of young pharmacists have vented out their dissatisfaction relating to what they described as unfair treatment not commensurate their qualifications and work load.

In a Press Release dated 14th October 2021 and signed by Alhaji O. Turay as President, Abu Bakarr Bangura as Secretary General and Junior Lamin Kamara as Public Relations Officer, the Young Pharmacists Group-Sierra Leone, also referred to as YPG-SL, unequivocally stated that they have been in several engagements with responsible authorities’ vis-à-vis issues revolving around the conditions of service of pharmacy professionals in the country.

The group continued that in the course of those engagements, they note, with extreme disappointment, the disregard with which authorities so engaged execute the responsibilities, ranging from unfair labour practices and continual failure to bargain in good faith about the welfare of pharmacy professionals.

YPG-SL, maintains that, it has long called for an improved condition of service, but the assigned pharmacy institutions/ stakeholders have woefully failed in addressing those concerns. According to the YPG-SL those institutions/stakeholders and the corresponding issues they have failed to address are as outlined below:

The Directorate of Pharmaceutical Services (formerly known as The Directorate of Drugs and Medical Supplies), headed by the Chief Pharmacist:

Scheme of service of Pharmacy professionals, Promotion of Pharmacy professionals (this includes both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians) after their legal tenure of services.

Delay in recruitment and posting of pharmacy professionals for over two years.

Inefficient Human Resource personnel at the Directorate of Pharmaceutical Services

Relocation of the Chief Pharmacist’s Office to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, headquartered in Youyi Building.  Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, headed by the Registrar (Ag.):

Posting of Pharmacy technicians as Regional Heads ahead of pharmacists competent enough to carry out such mandates

Uncontrollable proliferation of pharmacies, drugs to register patent in a way that contravenes the Pharmacy and Drugs Act 201.

The Pharmacy Board Members: Continual and collaborative failure to work in the interest of pharmacy professionals and paying lip services to the existing challenges in the profession.

The YPG-SL stated that in consonance with the above, it has made several strides in a bid to amicably resolve the above mentioned issues via the collaboration with these authorities, but the result has always been fruitless.

Its members narrate that on the18th June 2019, the YPG-SL wrote a letter to the Chief Pharmacist/Director of Drugs and Medical Supplies titled “Concern Over New Scheme of Service for Pharmacy Professionals” and stated in that letter a charter of demands that should be addressed by the Chief Pharmacist.

It continued how on the 6th November 2018, the YPG-SL also wrote a proposal to the Minister of Health and Sanitation titled: “The Need for a Scale up and Improvement in the Conditions of Service of Pharmacy Professionals and Making their Roles Recognized, Outstanding and Relevant in the Healthcare Delivery System.”

On the 12th November 2018, the YPG-SL further stated that it again wrote another letter titled, “Request for a Consultative Meeting with Your Administration” to the Registrar of Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone. That, they disclosed, came on the back of a proposal (as stated above, written to the then Minister) sent to the Registrar four days later. The purpose of the request, they said, was to allow the YPG-SL fifteen man committee at that time, engage the various governing bodies of pharmacy professionals, including the Pharmacy Board.

Stated in the Press Release was that the above correspondences have been directed with several follow ups, gentle reminders and friendly engagements, but they have yielded no positive result. Members said that has led to the mounting up of a position paper titled: “Position Paper on the Current Conditions of Services of Pharmacy Professionals and their Poor Recognition in the Health care Delivery System in Sierra Leone.

According to them the positions of YPG-SL are clear in the sense of making the Pharmacist’s role distinct and recognized and improve the remuneration and conditions of services for Pharmacists.
YPG-SL, the body that constitutes the young professionals that form the bed rock of the profession, it was repeatedly said, is highly frustrated over the lack of progress towards those demands and will no longer put up with unfair treatment.

The  Group therefore, firmly request that the following demands are addressed on or before Wednesday 12th  November 2021(i.e. within 21 working days, effective from the day of release of this press release): To Fast track the recruitment and posting of the last two batches of pharmacy professionals , fast track the enactment of the Reviewed Scheme of Service that allows Entry Pharmacists to start at Grade 8 and Inspecting Pharmacists at Grade 9 in tandem with the new promotion path ways for pharmacy professionals as opposed to the stagnated promotion with which pharmacists have to contend, the  posting of pharmacists to areas of vacancies, including health facilities, health programs, regulatory body, etc, increasing on the number of regional and district pharmacists. The current number of pharmacists in those settings is quite small to effectively and efficiently carry on their mandates and  restructuring of the current Human Resource Unit of the Directorate of Pharmaceutical Services to a more formidably proactive one.

It was indicated that in an event the above is not addressed accordingly and within the stipulated time frame, the YPG-SL will be left with no other choice than:  To embark on a demonstration on the 22 working day (i.e. 13 November 2021), effective since the date of release of this press release, boycott the forthcoming AGM/TGM, etc.

The YPG-SL says it also wants to note that the essence of the release is to bring to the attention of all pharmacy governing bodies the seriousness and series of burning issues that are eating into the fabric of the profession and until those issues are settled and demands addressed, they won’t rest.

Until these pharmacy governing bodies bargain in good faith for a fair contract that pays pharmacy professionals enough to live, they will not relent in their advocacy for improved working conditions.

When this medium contacted the Chief Pharmacist, Director of the Directorate of Pharmaceutical Services and Chairman of the Pharmacy Board Sierra Leone within the Ministry of Health and Sanitation ,Michael Jack Lansana, to ask him what is his take in relation to the above matter he responded by stating , “Thank you for bringing the allegations to my attention. At this point in time I am constrained to respond to your enquiries until we engage them and seek clarification on the issues raised. I will revert to you after the clarifications have been made”.

This medium also contacted Alhaji Mutarda Sesay on the same issue but he is yet to respond.

The YPG-SL forms the springboard of young graduating Pharmacists in Sierra Leone. Its membership comprises of young Pharmacists anticipating for the uplift of the Pharmacy profession through advocacy, commitment and service delivery within the healthcare sector to enhance optimal patient satisfaction and service delivery.

It has as its objectives: To provide a forum for young pharmacists in all areas of practice and in all corners of Sierra Leone to share their ideas and concerns of the growth of the profession and to seek for mentorships and career development, to promote the active improvement of Pharmaceutical education and advance the profession of Pharmacy, to involve its members in the moral and ethical obligations of the profession of Pharmacy, to bring astute young minds who will produce innovative and resourceful materials of relevance to the Pharmacy profession and to assist in the improvement and understanding of world health problems, to provide an independent forum for communication and dialogue among members and to contribute to the welfare of all members.

It also includes to be committed to the improvement of health care and service delivery to everyone and raising societal awareness about the role and importance of Pharmacists in patient care through health promotion activities

As its Vision, the Young Pharmacists Group-Sierra Leone will serve to motivate, inspire, strengthen and create opportunities for its members and young Pharmacists in Sierra Leone to enhance optimal patient care and service delivery.

The Mission of the organization borders around serving as the mouthpiece for young graduating Pharmacists in Sierra Leone, the Young Pharmacists Group-Sierra Leone will lead its members and young Pharmacy graduates to develop their career pathways by creating opportunities for leadership and professional development, raising societal awareness about the role and importance of Pharmacists in patient care, and create more opportunities for multidisciplinary connections with other young healthcare professionals.

Its members will serve as examples and models to pharmacy students and recent graduates transitioning to professionals-SL will promote the goals of PSSL by encouraging young members of PSSL to participate in PSSL activities and projects and abiding to the code of ethics of the profession. It will also enhance to promote creativity and innovation amongst young Pharmacists in Sierra Leone.



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