In Bangladesh, it’s not hard to find a pharmacy. But trained pharmacists are in short supply – fewer than one for every 10,000 Bangladeshis—so patients receive prescription medicine without oversight, increasing risk for damaging side effects, antibiotic resistance or worse.
To improve health care in Bangladesh, AmeriCares is training pharmacy staff at two hospitals in 11 areas of pharmacy practice, including good dispensing practices, drug safety, patient counseling and pharmaceutical management of chronic disease. The project, with support from GlaxoSmithKline and the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) trained eight pharmacists in its pilot phase in 2013-14 at Community Based Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh (CBMCH,B).
The training has real impact: Performance improved in skill areas including drug safety and pharmaceutical management of hypertension and diabetes. The project also increased pharmacy staff access to reference materials so they can sustain their ongoing learning of best practices, treatment guidelines and new pharmaceutical research.
Patients benefit too. At the end of the training period, 63 percent of patients at CBMCH’B responded that their experience at the hospital pharmacy was “excellent” or “very good,” a 33 percent improvement compared to the pre-training period. “Now they are spending more time with each patient,” said Project Manager Mohammad Abusyed. “The pharmacy staff at CBMCH,B are offering more information to the patients based on the patient counseling techniques and knowledge gained through AmeriCares training program.”
In a region where antibiotic resistance is a notable problem, the training is especially important. “The pharmacists used to just sell the drugs and not say anything about the medication,” says Dr. M. Karm Khan, Director of CBMCH,B. “Now they know to explain things like course treatments.” Without understanding the importance of a full course of treatment, for example, patients might stop taking antibiotics when they begin to feel better, which can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
With results in hand, this cost-effective project is ready to be rolled out at more pharmacies in Bangladesh.
AmeriCares also plans to present this innovate model at annual conference of the International Pharmaceutical Federation conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in September 2014.