Pharmacists vow to cripple hospitals

Pharmacists around the country have vowed not to go return to work until the government revises the increment it awarded them.

Hospital Pharmacists Association of Zambia Copperbelt and Northern Province chairperson Jerome Kanyuka said the situation would remain unchanged until the government responds to their demands to improve their conditions of service.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Nation yesterday, pharmacists said the government had neglected the situation at selected health centres including those involved in drugs management and had vowed not to return to work until their demands were addressed with the urgency required.

“It is an offence for anyone else other than pharmacists to dispense drugs in hospitals as has been reported from Kitwe and Ndola General Hospitals, that cleaning staff and other general health workers have been supplying drugs to both the in-patients and out-patients at the institutions,” he said.

According to Act 24 of 2004 of the Medical Professionals Act, it was an offence for any person to practice a profession they were not trained for, and has urged the relevant authorities to address the situation of non-professional staff dispensing drugs at health institutions including major hospitals in the country following the strike.

Kanyuka explained that pharmacists around the country have challenged their national leadership to step down as they have failed to represent the members’ needs since they have allowed the situation to get thus far.

“Our situation is as bad as that of the nurses and other health workers, but even after following the prescribed course of action through our union, we are not being treated like an emergency, with the urgency required and so we have decided to withdraw our labour until government responds favourably,” they said.

And in Lusaka, pharmacists explained that with the nurses on strike, student nurses could not order certain drugs like the dangerous drugs used in operations like anaesthetics.

“In fact, today (Tuesday), the Hospital orders major drugs for wards and the theatre but who is going to order without the registered nurses around?  And we know that the drugs are running low in wards and the theatres, so government needs to think fast as the situation is the same at all hospitals countrywide including missionary run facilities,” they said.

But HOPAZ president Moses Mukosha has appealed to government to quickly resolve the situation with the pharmacists to avoid continuation of the situation in hospitals.

“For government to avoid this they probably need to address this quickly, they need to respond with some urgency as it has affected the lives of people,” Mukosha said.

Pharmacists commenced their sit in protests against what they term as ‘mock’ salary increments of K41 in the government propelled public workers’ pay rise bonanza that has seen the health sector derailed.