The government is stepping up reforms which seek to correct anomalies and improve efficiency and professionalism in drug dispensing in the country.
Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) is currently conducting special training programmes for drug dispensers, who would be working in accredited drug outlets.
At least 1,366 professional drug dispensers graduated at the weekend in a five-week training conducted by TFDA, a government agency overseeing quality of food and drugs.
The participants came from around Dar es Salaam, and are now ready for recruitment by drug-outlet owners.
TFDA executive director Hiiti Sillo, said new dispensing procedures and regulations require dispensers to undergo specialised training conducted by the agency, and that owners of drug outlets have no option but to take their dispensers for such training.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Sillo said the training programme is part of a broader and countrywide project intended to recruit professional drug dispensers and improve service delivery at drug outlets.
“The main objective of this project is to enhance people’s access to quality, standard and safe drugs and related supportive services in drug outlets,” he said.
“In phasing out unprofessional drug dispensers in medicine outlets…we want owners of these businesses to employ qualified and professional drug dispensers trained by TFDA,” he added.
Already, according to the agency’s chief, 16 regions out of 21 targeted by the project, have received the training.
Besides the training, the project seeks to upgrade existing medicine outlets, including pharmacies, to accredited dispensing drug outlets (ADDO).
In her closing remarks, Dar es Salaam Regional Administrative Secretary Theresia Mbando, said through the project, the government intends to improve the performance of drug outlets in the country and related supportive medical services.
“We also want to assist drug shops (currently operating illegally) to abide by new standards, rules, regulations and laws governing drug dispensing,” Mbando said.
Last year, TFDA conducted a major crackdown countrywide in a move to uncover drug outlets violating professional standards, rules and regulations governing their operations.
Public Relations Officer, Gaudencia Simwanza is quoted as saying the operation targeted Part II shops which provide services against the regulations and permission from doctors.
A pilot study conducted by the agency, some years back, discovered that there are many Part II shops across the country operating illegally.
The study was part of the authority’s long-term programme aimed at transforming Part II shops to Accredited Drugs Dispensing Outlets (ADDO) in 2003.
“During the study, Part II shops were found with several weaknesses including poor dispensing practices and indiscriminate sale of drugs especially antibiotics, and inadequate and/or poor storage of medicines. Some were selling sub-standard, unregistered or expired drugs,” she noted.
Despite the on-going initiatives, there is significant number of drug outlets still operating contrary to their business certificates, which specifies the quality and type of drugs they are allowed to sell to customers. The malpractices put many lives of people at risk.
According to TFDA’s public relations officer, Part II shops which provide services illegally, jeopardise people’s lives as they practice other activities without skills and against the national laws--such as conducting abortion and minor surgeries within the shops.
Simwanza said under the new procedure, introduced by TFDA, all Part II shops are required to transform into Accredited Drugs Dispensing Outlets (ADDO).
He added: “But if the owners insist that they would like to remain in the Part II shops category, then they are required to meet ADDO outlets standards. If they fail to do so, they risk to be closed down.”
TFDA plans to introduce ADDO programme countrywide, and all Part II shops which at the beginning were selling medicines without advice from doctors, would be allowed to sell all drugs including antibiotics by using skilled dispensers.