Message from the Registrar
Amos Masango – Registrar/CEO
The July 2017 edition of e-Pharmaciae is packed full of news, as can be seen from the snippets in this editorial. It is clearly evident that Council has been hard at work serving the public. Our efforts, in turn, kept all our departments really busy. A lot of work lies behind this issue and I hope you will thoroughly enjoy the read as we reach the middle of the year.
Pharmacy Month (previously Pharmacy Week)
Pharmacy Week has been extended to cover a full month and from now on will be celebrated annually between 1 and 30 September. This is greatly appreciated as we will now have more time to devote to promoting our important profession. Pharmacy Month, as it will now be known, is one of the key strategic goals of Council. It is the time when we get closer to the people we serve, showcasing what the profession is all about. As Council, we strive to create public awareness about the use of medicines. We publish articles promoting healthy lifestyles in various publications, and every year at this time we participate in a range of activities, all aimed at serving our patients. We want to encourage all of you to, once again, participate and share your experiences with Council which, through e-Pharmaciae, we will publish and share with others.
Read more in this issue.
Has Council done away with basic and post-basic pharmacist’s assistants qualifications?
The answer is a big NO! Council has simply changed the way these qualifications can be achieved by introducing the Occupational Certificate: Pharmacy Technician (OQSF). This is a three-part, non-sector specific qualification at NQF4 and NQF5 for pharmacist’s assistants basic and post basic, and also includes an NQF6 qualification for pharmacy technicians. In addition, Council has introduced the Diploma in Pharmacy Technical Support (HEQSF), which will replace the current Higher Certificate: Pharmacy Support, and the Advanced Certificate: Pharmacy Technical Support offered at higher education institutions. This qualification can also be achieved through distance learning.
Details are in this issue of e-Pharmaciae and I urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the developments, especially responsible pharmacists and tutors who need the information to guide their learners appropriately.
National Health Insurance and the pharmacy profession
Are we familiar with the NHI? Have we attended all relevant seminars and conferences etc., to learn about this important transformation in our health sector? We, as one of the important role players in healthcare issues, are at last taking our rightful places, and we need to unite and act as one in order to achieve the best for our profession. We should not be left behind because of petty sector issues which will divide the profession further and further into oblivion.
The Minister of Health gazetted a White Paper on NHI and it reveals the significant strides South Africa is taking towards transforming the health sector towards the concept of universal healthcare coverage through NHI. We need to acquaint ourselves with this development and take part in the implementation of NHI in the institutions, bodies and commissions that must be established.
Online preregistration examination for interns
A noteworthy first for Council is the introduction of online preregistration exams for interns. This is a big achievement for Council and interns in general. This process now speeds up the time it takes to release results and, for the unsuccessful interns, gives them time to plan well ahead for their next exam. We thank all the universities and other interested parties for making their facilities available and making this dream come true. I would also like to thank the staff, who have worked hard at awkward times and over weekends to make this process the success it is.
Read more in this issue.
Minimum standard for the sale of HIV self-screening test kits
Council published the above minimum standard on 6 June for comment by 6 July 2017. This standard provides guidance on how to address pertinent issues and concerns relating to HIV self-screening. With effect from 23 December 2016, Council lifted the ban on pharmacists selling home-use HIV tests kits to patients. It is important to note that home-use HIV screening tests kits are designed specifically for the general public to use and are not the same as the clinical screening test kits currently used by healthcare professionals, including pharmacists. Pharmacists need to take note of the updated Minimum Standards for the Performance of the HIV Tests (i.e. 2.13.5 with Rule 188.8.131.52(h) of the GPP deleted), as well as the new Minimum standard for the sale of HIV self-screening test kits.
Read more in this issue
Grading of pharmacies
So far the grading of pharmacies, which was implemented in 2013, has been a success as pharmacies are able to see immediately their level of compliance with GPP requirements. Council has also been able to reward compliant pharmacies, those classified as Grade A, as they now need to be inspected only once in three years. Pharmacies classified as Grade C are also able to ‘up their game’ and avoid paying inspection fees every year. Council is receiving much accolade for having taken the route of registering our facilities and inspecting them. Other statutory bodies are far from realising this type of achievement. This places Council and pharmacy in a better position for the implementation of NHI.
Read more in this issue.
Best wishes to all for the remaining part of the year.