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The Department of Pharmacy at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) just worked with the Department of Pharmaceuticals at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the National Health Training College (NHTC) to train Lesotho Pharmacists and build on their skills. They were trained on Pharmacovigilance, Rational Medicines Use, Import and Export of Pharmaceutical Products and Licensing of Pharmaceutical outlets.

The training took two weeks from 22 November to 3 December 2021. Dr Lineo Maja (Senior Lecturer) and Mr Molungoa Sello (Senior Lecturer) from the Department of Pharmacy represented NUL in this project.

The training was for all pharmacists in District Hospitals and all District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) pharmacists in Lesotho.

Dr Maja focused on the Development of Rational Medicines, her area of interest while Mr Sello focused on Pharmacovigilance, his area of interest. They also assisted with Import and Export of Pharmaceutical Products and Licensing of Pharmaceutical Outlets.

Some of the topics handled by Dr Maja included Effective Communication in Pharmacovigilance, Handling Consignments at Ports of Entry, Rational Use of Medicines, and Application of Methods to Diagnose Medicine Use Problems.

She also presented topics such as Storage, Sanitation and Hygiene, Handling of Controlled Medicines and Unserviceable Products, and Recalls and Withdrawals as some of the important elements considered during licensing of pharmaceutical outlets.

Mr Sello handled topics such as Background and Systems of Pharmacovigilance, Reporting of Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI), Analysis of Data and Individual Case Safety Reports (ICSRS) as well as Causality Assessment.

He also trained pharmacists on Antimicrobial Resistance and Addressed Topics in Licencing of Pharmaceutical Outlets such as location and premises, Handling of Pharmaceutical Products, and Records and Documentation.

The training was highly necessary because it addressed important issues in the pharmaceutical sector. During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, Pharmacovigilance is very important as it assists with detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other medicine or vaccine related problem.

Thus, Pharmacovigilance assures the safety of medicines and vaccines by ensuring reliable and timely exchange of information on safety issues.

Also, the world is battling an increasing rate of antimicrobial resistance which is a global health and development threat. This is due to misuse and overuse of antimicrobials that leads to bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites changing over time and no longer responding to medicines. This makes infections harder to treat and increases the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

Therefore, rational medicines use is one way to control antimicrobial resistance.

It requires that patients receive medications appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their own individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and at the lowest cost to them and their community.

Import and export of pharmaceutical products is very important, more so for individual patients who have to cross country boarders with medications. Pharmacists and patients need to know procedures to follow in order to either import or export the medicines to allow continuity of therapy.

Lastly, a lack of employment of pharmacists in this country has led to pharmacists establishing community or retail pharmacies. This they may do as a source of income, job creation, and for the relief of the overburdened health system of Lesotho. This means they should know procedures to follow to own a community or retail pharmacy that is up to standard.

In this way, they will ensure patient safety and quality of medicines that will be sold.

This collaboration between the Department of Pharmacy at NUL and the Department of Pharmaceuticals at MoH marks the beginning of greater adventures to come where the MoH Department of Pharmaceuticals will frequently use locally-based experts in the field of Pharmacy for capacity building and skills transfer.

This indeed marks the new era of workmanship between the Department of Pharmacy at NUL and the Department of Pharmaceuticals at MoH.

COVID-19 vaccines go through many tests for safety and effectiveness and are then monitored closely.

Source: World Health Organization

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