• Filling the Gaps in the Pharmacy Workforce in Post-Conflict Areas: Experience from Four Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

      Wong, Anabelle; orcid: 0000-0002-5421-8692; email: anabellewong.hk@gmail.com; Hung, Kevin K. C.; orcid: 0000-0001-8706-7758; email: kevin.hung@cuhk.edu.hk; Mabhala, Mzwandile; orcid: 0000-0003-1350-7065; email: a.mabhala@chester.ac.uk; Tenney, Justin W.; email: jtenney@westcoastuniversity.edu; Graham, Colin A.; orcid: 0000-0002-4381-7470; email: cagraham@cuhk.edu.hk (MDPI, 2021-07-31)
      Background: While the pharmacy workforce is the third largest professional healthcare group worldwide, the pharmacy workforce landscape remains unclear in post-conflict areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Method: Key informants were selected for semi-structured interviews due to their role in providing pharmacy services in the selected country: the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, and South Sudan. Transcripts from the interviews were anonymized, coded, and analyzed. Results: Nine participants were recruited (CAR: 2; DRC: 2; Ethiopia: 2; South Sudan: 3), and all except two were pharmacists. Conflict-specific challenges in pharmacy service delivery were identified as the following: unpredictable health needs and/or mismatched pharmaceutical supply, transport difficulties due to insecure roads, and shortage of pharmacy workforce due to brain drain or interrupted schooling. Barriers to health workforce retention and growth were identified to be brain drain as a result of suboptimal living and working conditions or remuneration, the perception of an unsafe work environment, and a career pathway or commitment duration that does not fit the diaspora or expatriate staff. Conclusion: To tackle the barriers of pharmacy health workforce retention and growth, policy solutions will be required and efforts that can bring about long-term improvement should be prioritized. This is essential to achieve universal health coverage and the targets of the sustainable development goals for conflict affected areas, as well as to “leave no one behind”.