Joint Trainings Prepare Afghan Pharmacy Students for Future Success

Afghan pharmacy students listen intently to a lecture during recent trainings. {Photo credit: MSH staff.}Photo credit: MSH staff.

Access to quality medicines and appropriate use of those medicines are critical to good patient care and a functioning health system. To ensure that public sector pharmacists in Afghanistan can better manage their stores and to promote improved prescribing and medicine use, SPS Afghanistan conducts Managing Drug Supply (MDS) and Rational Medicine Use (RMU) trainings in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and Afghan educational institutions.

Afghanistan’s health sector—like the rest of the country—was devastated by decades of war when the international donor community returned in 2002. In recent years, the country has made great strides in rebuilding its health and pharmaceutical systems and improving basic health indicators, however instability remains a challenge and the pharmaceutical sector is chaotic and complex.

Without trained providers, Afghanistan’s pharmaceutical system will remain lacking. In order to develop the necessary skills among those providers, pre-service and in-service education and curriculums must be high quality and thorough. 

In response to individual requests from Afghanistan’s Ghazanfar Institute for Health Sciences (GIHS) and the Kabul University Faculty of Pharmacy—the country’s two public institutions training pharmacists and pharmacist assistants—representatives of the Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) Afghanistan Associate Award project, the Ministry of Public Health’s (MoPH’s) General Directorate for Pharmaceutical Affairs (GDPA), and the Faculty of Pharmacy held two five-day workshops for pharmacy students in late 2012. The participatory workshops trained students in critical issues of RMU and MDS, topics that were not included in either institution’s curriculum.

The November workshop included 44 second-year GIHS students (33 men, 11 women), and a similar workshop in December had 56 fifth-year Faculty of Pharmacy students (44 men, 12 women). Instructors from SPS, GDPA, and the Faculty of Pharmacy used SPS curriculums and materials, and employed proven training and adult learning methods such as discussion, role-playing, and group work.

Based on pre- and posttest results, understanding of RMU and MDS issues increased substantially during the workshop: from 30 to 78 percent for GIHS students, and from 27 to 87 percent for Faculty of Pharmacy students. Additionally, by co-facilitating with SPS, Afghan national partners in the educational institutions and in the MoPH/GDPA gained important skills and knowledge.

Graduates from GIHS and Faculty of Pharmacy are likely to work in Afghanistan’s public health sector. Their improved knowledge will serve them well in these positions and help ensure that patients receive quality health care and that pharmaceutical resources are managed effectively.

The MSH-led, USAID-supported SPS program works in Afghanistan to strengthen the country’s pharmaceutical regulation procedures, supply chain management, human resource capacity for service delivery, pharmaceutical services, and use of information for decision-making in the pharmaceutical sector.

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