4,000 private pharmacies, but only 1500 qualified pharmacists

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Government Pharmacists Union (GPU) yesterday said that there was a pressing need for at least 500 more pharmacists.

 The President of the GPU, Athula Amarasena, said that recently established Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) required approximately 85 of them. Explaining the situation, he said that there was also a requirement for at least 120 Drug Inspectors at the DRA.

Amarasena said there were about 1,500 qualified pharmacists at present.

 Spokesman for the Health Ministry, Nipun Ekanayake said that Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister, Dr Rajitha Senaratne had pledged to provide the required number of pharmacists and other resources to the DRA.

 Ekanayake said that there were approximately 4,000 private sector pharmacies in the country but only 1,500 pharmacists. Therefore, the majority of them functioned without a qualified pharmacist, which was unlawful.

 There was also a dearth of pharmacists in government hospitals and that issue needed to be urgently addressed, he said.

 Ekanayake said that steps would be taken to recruit pharmacists at all levels of the health service. The matter had been discussed during the conference with provincial health ministers.

 The spokesman observed that in early 2000 the Cabinet had given its approval for pharmacists to be provided with a professional degree. At the time Minister Rajitha Senaratne had urged trade unionists to stop their agitations and to come our with suggestions to improve their professional standards.

Doctors had been against that move at the time, Ekanayake said, adding that certain decisions should be taken in the national interest to keep pace with the rest of the world.

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