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Encouragement of pharmaceutical education in Tanzania

MAP-Workshop in Tanzania

MAP-Workshop in Tanzania © action medeor

Tanzania is controlled by a massive shortage of health care professionals. This includes a lack of qualified pharmaceutic personnel. There are only 980 registered pharmacists, 650 pharmaceutical technicians and 350 pharmaceutical assistants for 45 million people.

What is unimaginable in a country like Germany is daily life in the rural areas of Tanzania: in 2012 only 30% of the health care facilities employed pharmaceutical personnel. It may have dramatic outcomes for the Tanzanian population: unskilled employees aren‘t able to check the medicine’s quality – fake medicine stays undetected. As well, the population does not receive a suitable counselling in terms of taking and dosing – therefore therapy often remains ineffective and resistances rise. In addition storage and purchase which are often insufficient.

To assure a better medical supply and an improved access to high quality medicines, the infrastructure in medical care has to be strengthened. Therefore job training has a high significance.

To address the shortage of skilled personnel, the Tanzanian government adapted the educational system in 2015. Instead of a three-year job training to become a pharmaceutical technician, trainees complete three one year job trainings, which can be passed back-to-back. In addition, it is now possible to get a degree after each year of education. After the first year they are „medicine dispenser“, after the second „pharmaceutical assistant“ and after the third „pharmaceutical technician“. This offers a career entry after every year.

action medeor supported the government as well as the educational facilities in two projects, which have been finalised sucessfully in 2017. In cooperation with local authorities a modern curriculum was developed, which then was used uniformly in each of the 26 Tanzanian schools. This curriculum serves as a guideline for the mostly young and unexperienced teachers. For the students the curriculum means a practical education, which especially responds to the current problems in Tanzania.

For the first semsters, new teaching material was created and at a few schools, teachers received extra training concerning the usage of the curriculum and didactic methods. In addition to this technical support, action medeor invested in infrastructure: laboratories at two schools were extended and the library at another school was enlarged.

Even though both projects were successful, there is still a need for action to meet skill shortages in the pharmaceutical sector of Tanzania. Therefore, within a multi-actor-partnership in the free market economy (Merck, Böhringer, Bayer), German organisations (GIZ), local authorities (NACTE), universities and local partners (CSSC) have realized a follow-up project. In terms of the project, handbooks and teaching materials for higher semesters were generated to implement the new curriculum. In addition teachers still get extra training as it was not possible to train all of them in the previous project.

A further aim is to evaluate the situation in neighbouring states and check if the concept of this successful project is transferable to these states as well.