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Pharmacists still awaiting permits

Oct 07 2012 13:57 Nellie Brand-Jonker

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Cape Town – Pharmacists who recently completed a refresher course to diagnose and prescribe medicine for certain illnesses are worried about the continuing delay in issuing their permits.

The Department of Health has laid the blame for the delay at the door of the Pharmacy Board.

Department media spokesperson Joe Maila said there indeed was a delay in issuing permits.

He said the department was still waiting for certain information to come from the Pharmacy Board.

He said the “department is in contact with the Pharmacy Board to ensure that an updated list of medicines and the process of testing competence be supplied before the permits can be issued”.

The Pharmacy Board failed to respond to enquiry.

The refresher course must be successfully completely before the end of next year by pharmacists who have completed the postgraduate qualification in Primary Care Drug Therapy (PCDT) before 2011.

This refresher course is offered by, among others, North West University (NWU).

The Department of Health and the Pharmacy Board decided in 2011 that pharmacists who completed the PCDT course and had not yet received a permit, first had to do a refresher course.

In 2007 NWU started a new PCDT course following a decision by the Pharmacy Board that the qualification should enable pharmacists to use the guidelines on standard treatment for primary healthcare as well as the list of essential medication.

Gert Wepener – who received his pharmacy degree back in the 1980s – took the two-year course, but has since 2009 been struggling to get a permit from the department.

He’s struggled for four years, he says. For four years the department has been blaming the Pharmacy Board and the Pharmacy Board has been blaming the department.

Dr Johan Lamprecht, a senior lecturer in the clinical pharmacy department of the healthcare sciences faculty at NWU, said the refresher course is designed to get everyone up to date again because drugs and treatments for illnesses are currently changing.

PCDT pharmacy services have been offered in South Africa since the 1990s.

Wepener said specialist pharmacy is the future of the pharmacy profession. “Many more will now be able to diagnose and prescribe.” In his view this includes diagnosing and treating diseases like pneumonia and bronchitis.

Lamprecht said the idea is to increase access to primary healthcare as there is such a shortage of doctors.

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