Uganda needs at least 5,000 pharmacists for both the private and government sectors to effectively serve the population, experts have said.
This was revealed in Kampala yesterday during the launch of the 8th convention for pharmacy students that will be held in July.
Dr Samuel Opio, the secretary Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, said currently, Uganda has 1,100 registered and licensed pharmacists but about 20 per cent of them are out of the country for further studies or work.
"We need to increase five times more because only 150 pharmacists graduate annually and we need to increase the number to 600 to be able to cover the gap in 10 years to come," he said.
Dr Opio added that of the registered pharmacists, 90 per cent are employed in the private sector.
"This means that access to the pharmacists is still a problem for Ugandans who are using public sector facilities, especially in remote areas. That is why they end up having individual treatment," he said.
Dr Opio added that the public should also change the perception that pharmacists are drug sellers yet they are experts in medicine.
"Currently, there is a need to have more veterinary pharmacists because screening of animal products is becoming a problem in Uganda and it is meant to be done by these pharmacists," he said.
Dr Opio also revealed that they have developed a mobile application that will help improve pharmaceutical services across the county.
"This application will be used by the pharmacists and their employers. It is currently on trial for the whole of this month after which we expect to launch it," he said.
Mr Morris Seru, the acting commissioner for pharmaceuticals in the Ministry of Health, said that government is not in position to employ all the pharmacists needed in the country.
"As government, we know where we need pharmacists and we are working to make sure that we have them but some will be hired by private sectors," he said.
Mr Seru added that they want a pharmacist for every district.
"We are working with the human resource department because district health officers are over loaded and these pharmacists will be responsible to support in pharmaceutical services right from health centre II. We need one pharmacist per 10 people, which means we still have a gap of 4,000 pharmacists," he said.