Namibia: Pharmacy Assistants Trained to Deliver Quality HIV and AIDS Pharmaceutical Services

 {Photo: SIAPS Namibia, September 2015}Martin Mandumbwa, PA, dispensing medicines to a patient at Robert Mugabe Clinic in Windhoek, Namibia.Photo: SIAPS Namibia, September 2015

Namibia faces a high burden of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, with an estimated 13.1 percent of the adult population living with HIV. To help address this critical national health concern, the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has been receiving technical assistance from the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, with funding from the US President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through US Agency for International Development (USAID), and led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

This assistance has been a particular help to the National Health Training Center (NHTC), a branch of the MoHSS responsible for training pharmaceutical and health professionals. Through SIAPS, MSH and partners have helped to establish a quality management system for pharmacist assistant (PA) training; improve the facilitating, moderating, and assessing skills of PA tutors; launch a PA skills training laboratory; and orient students on the use of the electronic dispensing tool (EDT).

The EDT is an essential pharmaceutical care tool for dispensing antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) to patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART), tracking their adherence to the medication regime, and managing their prescription refill appointments.

Martin Mandumbwa, a PA, trained at the NHTC, graduated in 2014, and currently works at a public sector ART facility in Windhoek, Namibia. With the knowledge and skills gained from the PA training at NHTC, Mandumbwa manages the pharmaceutical services of the Robert Mugabe Clinic’s two pharmacies, one of which is dedicated to ART services. He provides HIV treatment counseling and ARVs to the patients on ART and advises them on how to correctly take their medicines for maximum benefit. The clinic had about 1,060 patients on ART in June 2015, when we began compiling this story. Says Mandumbwa:

I am very happy with the training I received at NHTC because I can dispense ARVs. I can initiate patients on ARVs, which includes counseling them, making sure that they understand what they are about to undergo.

More than 100 PAs have graduated from the NHTC since 2007, when USAID began supporting the institution. In May 2015, 26 PAs graduated from the program.

Without the training that he received from NHTC, enhanced by the pharmacy practical skills training laboratory that SIAPS supported, Mandumbwa could not have been licensed to practice as a PA. Now, however, he has the opportunity to proudly and competently deliver pharmaceutical care services, especially for people living with HIV and AIDS.

For more information on this story, please contact Evans Sagwa at, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), Namibia.

[This is 1 of 12 stories in the 2016 special edition Global Health Impact newsletter. Click here to read more.] {Photo: Gwenn Dubourthournieu}This is 1 of 12 stories in the 2016 special edition Global Health Impact newsletter. Click here to read more.Photo: Gwenn Dubourthournieu