BY PHILLIS MBANJE
PHARMACISTS have denied that they are profiteering on COVID-19 medication after accusations that they were making a killing from the sale of drugs meant to help alienate the effects of the global pandemic.
Speaking during a virtual conference on Saturday convened by the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ) Jocelyn Chaibva the chairperson of the Retail Pharmacists Association (RPA) said the reality of COVID-19 had forced them to have a re-look at their operations.
The conference which ran under a theme “Adapt or die” drew participants from across Africa, and its aim was to share ideas on how to respond to the pandemic which has grossly affected the pharmaceutical industry.
Local pharmacists have been contributing 70% of the drug needs of the population in relation to the pandemic.
Community pharmacists that have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 fight were adversely affected by the pandemic.
“We are not profiteering. This is a business and we should not apologise for providing a service, “said Chaibva who is also the vice-president of the African Pharmaceutical Forum.
She challenged pharmacists to expand their services beyond the usual way of doing business.
President of the PSZ Portifa Mwendera said the lockdown measures severely affected them because patient and customer movements had been restricted. He said they had to devise means of coping with the changes brought about by COVID-19.
“We had to make a sudden change. Our lives have not been the same but we have a population that depends on us, “he said.
During last month’s World Pharmaceutical Day celebrations, pharmacists said the pandemic had changed their way of doing business and had thrust community pharmacists on the fore of the global fight.
As part of their advocacy efforts, the pharmacists have been engaging policy makers to come up with legislation that creates a better framework for operations during the crisis.
“As RPA we are liaising with legislators regarding the quality of face masks and sanitisers. The World Health Organisation provides a guideline on the standards of sanitisation. It is not about the political party they support but coming up with the right policies. Diseases do not recognise politics,” Chaibva said.
Israel Bimpe from Rwanda said in his country had adopted the use of technology in their operations.
A tech company Zipline has engineered drones that travel hundreds of kilometres to deliver vital medical supplies to rural health centres in Rwanda.
Pharmacists also called for measures to protect them from COVID-19 risks which are the same as those put in place for other health professionals such as nurses and doctors.