Mumbai : Even as health ministry has shown positive indication towards skill training to unqualified people involved in drug distribution at retail stores to make them eligible for handling pharmacies, lakhs of pharmacists in the country are facing challenge of unemployment.
Out of the 12 lakh registered pharmacists across the country, 8 lakh pharmacists are still unemployed. Every year 65,000 pharmacists pass out from around 1,000 pharmacy colleges where 87,000 candidates enroll annually. Same is the case even in the Northeastern states. More than 8000 registered pharmacists out of 11,000 pharmacists are unemployed in Assam, and in Arunachal Pradesh out of 514 registered pharmacists, 225 are unemployed. In Manipur out of more than 1,400 registered pharmacists, more than 800 are unemployed. In Meghalaya out of 773 registered pharmacists, more than 550 are unemployed.
The number of unemployed pharmacists in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha is more than three lakhs. There are 70,200 registered pharmacists in UP. Of them, 7,000 are employed with UP government, 500 employed with other institutions and the rest is unemployed. In Maharashtra, there are 2 lakh pharmacists. Of them, 50,000 are employed, said Federation of Indian Pharmacists Organisations (FIPO) president RS Thakur.
FIPO has repeatedly raised concern over growing unemployment rate among pharmacists.
Thakur said, “India produces around 65,000 pharmacists with D. Pharm, B Pharm, M Pharm degrees per annum with few of them getting suitable employment. Lack of job opportunities is a major issue that needs to be addressed immediately if we want to raise standard of the profession. Instead of taking steps to ensure job opportunities for pharmacists, the government is showing willingness towards skill development of unqualified people selling drugs to make them at par with pharmacists. It will further shrink job openings for pharmacists and take its toll on patient safety.”
Requirement of duly qualified and registered pharmacist in medicine shops is universally accepted law to ensure, safe, rational, effective and economic drug therapy. When ministry is promoting modern allopathic medicines for treatment it has no moral right to deprive Indians from the services of registered pharmacists, he said.
KL Sharma, joint secretary, ministry of health when approached by AIOCD regarding shortage of pharmacists, had suggested the trade body to have a discussion between druggists and pharmacists associations, PCI and Healthcare Sector Skill Council to develop a module making unqualified people, having more than 5 years of experience in dispensing drugs under a pharmacist, qualified to handle medicines.
“The prior learning of those engaged in drug distribution needs to be recognized. Their skills have to be identified and gaps have to be found. Thereafter there will be modules developed by healthcare sector skill council to train them in handling medicines. On completion of the course, they will acquire the qualification laid down by the PCI to distribute medicines. The certificates which will be at par with the diploma in pharmacy will be awarded to participants,” the joint secretary said.
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