MSH Trains Pharmacy Assistants in Namibia to Support HIV & AIDS Service Delivery

[Napembe Kefasi at the Katutura Health Centre in Windhoek, Namibia. Photo Credit: MSH Staff.]Napembe Kefasi at the Katutura Health Centre in Windhoek, Namibia. Photo Credit: MSH Staff.With a population of over 2 million, 204,000 people are currently living with HIV in Namibia—more than 80,000 are in need of treatment. AIDS has become and continues to be the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country, accounting for three quarters of all hospital admissions and nearly half of the deaths.

In 2003, the Government of the Republic of Namibia initiated a free (at point of service) HIV & AIDS treatment program but faced an important challenge when trying to expand the program: the lack of adequate and trained health personnel to deliver pharmaceutical care. As a result, many people requiring treatment continued to have limited access to quality service delivery.

With the intent of training more pharmaceutical workers to treat people with HIV & AIDS, MSH’s Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, provided qualified tutors and renovated classrooms at the National Health Training Centre (NHTC). To facilitate the training of new mid-level pharmacy staff members, the programs also supplied office and simulation laboratory equipment, such as computers and technical support, to the NHTC in Windhoek. As personnel are trained, they are deployed to HIV & AIDS clinics and other sites throughout Namibia. As a result, more people have access to life-saving medicines.  

Napembe Kefasi is one of the 10 pharmacy assistants who graduated from a pharmacy assistant training program at the NHTC in Namibia. He completed the program in May 2008 and is now stationed at the Katutura Health Centre in Windhoek, which has more than 3,700 registered HIV & AIDS patients.

“I got into this job because I saw a great need for pharmacy personnel and wanted to serve my people. It’s challenging, but I feel confident because of the training I got,” Napembe said.

In addition to his work at the Katutura Health Centre, Napembe also visits three outreach sites since trained personnel are greatly lacking. The health workers at these sites attend daily to 150 patients at each hospital-based antiretroviral therapy site by providing them with HIV & AIDS medicines. The closest site may be as far as 75 miles away.  

“My day starts at 8 am, I provide medicines to more than 100 people per day and often go home late because we have to make sure that the last patient has received his or her medicines,”  according to Napembe.

Since early 2007, the National Health Training Centre has successfully increased its enrollment of pharmacy assistants from 6 to 28 students, many of whom will graduate in March 2010.

Related Links:

Q & A with Jude Nwokike, SPS Country Program Manager Namibia and South Africa on the Pharmacy Assistant Training Program

Launch of Namibia’s Therapeutics Information and Pharmacovigilance Center

For more information on SPS’s work in Namibia

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