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Shortage of Medication Puts Health Centers at Stake

State reels under shortage of pharmacists

Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Aug 5: Raising a few vital questions on registered pharmacists, the Assam Pharmacy Council (APC) has piqued public’s curiosity on medication by private nursing homes/hospitals in the State. There is a burning question which the queries made by the APC elicits: is medication being provided by the city’s nursing homes/hospitals on the safe side when the State is reeling under shortage of pharmacists?

In his letter to the Deputy Drug Control, Directorate of Health Services, Assam on July 24 this year, APC president MC Deka requested the office of the Directorate to furnish the list of nursing homes/hospitals in greater Guwahati showing names of pharmacists with their registration numbers, his/her duty hours, working time in the retail shops/stores in the nursing homes/hospitals. This plain and simple letter from Deka is enough to deal a blow if there is wrongdoing in the business of medication.

There are allegations that private nursing homes/hospitals in Guwahati are run without adequate number of registered pharmacists. According to the Directorate of Health Services, in Kamrup (M) there are a total of 63 private nursing homes/hospitals. While some of these nursing homes/hospitals work 12 hours a day, others remain open 24X7. According to the Labour Law, a pharmacist (or any other employee) works eight hours a day. This essentially is a pointer to the fact that each of the nursing homes/hospitals needs two-three registered pharmacists. Do they have adequate number of registered pharmacists?

According the Association of Pharmacists, Assam, the State has a total of 9,381 registered pharmacists. Of them, 5,810 are working in pharmacies of the Central Government and its undertakings, the Assam Government and other PPP projects, hospitals of tea estates and in various private sector hospitals, colleges, universities etc. Apart from these, there are 6,781 other retail pharmacies in the State. If there is shortage of registered pharmacists in the State, how come the private nursing homes/hospitals run their retails shops/stores round the clock? If such retail shops deliver medicines in the absence of registered pharmacists, it might have far-reaching ramifications. Medication is something where no one should take risk.

The joint secretary of Association of Pharmacists, Assam, Matiur Rahman said: “Pharmacists are also equally important as doctors and other medicos in health care. They’re the ones who give life to medicines. However, the profession has lost its fragrance due to non-implementation or ill implementation of the pharmacy policy in Assam. We welcome the move taken by the APC in greater Guwahati. We, however, want that this move should be taken all over the State.”