The reality of task shifting in medicines management - a case study from Tanzania

Wiedenmayer, Karin A. and Kapologwe, Ntuli and Charles, James and Chilunda, Fiona and Mapunjo, Siana. (2015) The reality of task shifting in medicines management - a case study from Tanzania. Journal of pharmaceutical policy and practice, Vol. 8, Nr. 1 , 13.

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Tanzania suffers a severe shortage of pharmaceutical staff. This negatively affects the provision of pharmaceutical services and access to medicines, particularly in rural areas. Task shifting has been proposed as a way to mitigate the impact of health worker shortfalls.The aim of this study was to understand the context and extent of task shifting in pharmaceutical management in Dodoma Region, Tanzania. We explored 1) the number of trained pharmaceutical staff as compared to clinical cadres managing medicines, 2) the national establishment for staffing levels, 3) job descriptions, 4) supply management training conducted and 5) availability of medicines and adherence to Good Storage Practice.; A cross-sectional study was conducted in 270 public health facilities in 2011. A pre-tested questionnaire was administered to the person in charge of the facility to collect data on staff employed and their respective pharmaceutical tasks. Availability of 26 tracer medicines and adherence to Good Storage Practice guidelines was surveyed by direct observation. The national establishments for pharmaceutical staffing levels and job descriptions of facility cadres were analysed.; While required staffing levels in 1999 were 50, the region employed a total of only 14 pharmaceutical staff in 2011. Job descriptions revealed that, next to pharmaceutical staff, only nurses were required to provide dispensing services and adherence counselling. In 95.5% of studied health facilities medicines management was done by non-pharmaceutically trained cadres, predominantly medical attendants. The first training on supply management was provided in 2005 with no refresher training thereafter. Mean availability of tracer medicines was 53%, while 56% of health facilities fully met criteria of Good Storage Practice. Task shifting is a reality in the pharmaceutical sector in Tanzania and it occurs mainly as a coping mechanism rather than a formal response to the workforce crisis. In Dodoma Region, pharmacy-related tasks and supply management have informally been shifted to clinical staff without policy guidance, explicit job descriptions, and without the necessary support through training. Implicit task shifting should be recognized and formalized. Job orientation, training and operational procedures may be useful to support non-pharmaceutical health workers to effectively manage medicine supply.
Faculties and Departments:09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Department of Swiss Centre for International Health (SCIH) > Health Systems Support (Prytherch)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
UniBasel Contributors:Wiedenmayer, Karin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:BioMed Central
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:31 Dec 2015 10:58
Deposited On:03 Jul 2015 08:53

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