Twenty-eight pharmacy officers and senior pharmacy division staff are meeting in Honiara this week for a week long conference which aims to update their knowledge and address key concerns within the National Pharmacy Division.

The National Pharmacy Division - one of the largest within the Ministry of Health & Medical Services - oversees the supply of drugs and medical equipment to the country, as well as providing pharmacy services to every province and the National Referral Hospital (NRH).

Drug supply to the public sector in the Solomon Islands is managed by the National Medical Stores, an arm of the Pharmacy Division, who supply Second Level Medical Stores in provincial hospitals and Area Health Centres. From there, the supplies are distributed to the clinics in those areas.

This network is managed by a team of more than 70 pharmacy officers and pharmacists who also hold an array of responsibilities including Dispensing, Medication Counselling, Ward Supply, Cold Chain Management, EPI, Health Promotion, Drug Recalls, Supply Logistics, Patient Primary Care and Staff Education.

"This week is an opportunity for our Senior Pharmacy Officers to undergo refresher training in many aspects of their roles, as well as bring their concerns directly to the Senior Staff within the Division," Director of Pharmacy Services, Wale Tobata said, "It is a great opportunity to have all these people in one place at one time."

The week will also allow the Division to address some of the concerns regarding supply problems in the Solomons which impact heavily on the Pharmacy Officers' work. "Supply problems, resulting in 'Out of Stock' drugs, are generally not the fault of Pharmacy Officers - the problems stem from wider procurement issues here and overseas - but they receive much of the blame!" Mr Tobata has said.

Representatives from the media, Ministry of Health and WHO (who are funding the conference) met this morning for a morning tea at NRH, where the media had the opportunity to put their questions regarding supply issues directly to the people who handle our medicines.

The refresher training is being conducted by Public Pharmacy Services - an arm of the Division based at NRH - but it incorporates all aspects of pharmacy, including the Stores and Regulatory Affairs.

"Bringing together the senior staff from every arm of the Pharmacy Division gives us the opportunity to properly air concerns and plan for the future," Chief Pharmacist Michael Nunan said, "The staff working in the provinces are crucial in feeding ideas and information into the process."

"Also being launched this year are new National Pharmacy Standards, which are intended to govern the way pharmacy departments are run, infrastructure requirements and staff skills and training," Mr Tobata said, "This is a big step forward for us in spelling out exactly how we should be doing our job and also how we should be assessing our performance."

The conference will conclude on Friday.

Press Release (National Pharmacy Division)