Wednesday, Jul 8, 2020
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We need qualified Bahamian pharmacists working!

Dear Editor,

McHari Institute was given an articulation agreement with Havana University from 2002, which is still active and current to date.

This institution has matriculated over thousands of now-leading professionals in numerous disciplines now practicing successfully in their respective fields.

The Ministry of Education was the present and only governing body for “accepted” and “recognized” tertiary educators in The Bahamas at that time. This institution was “accepted” and “recognized” by the Ministry of Education and Public Service Commission.

The National Accreditation & Evaluation Body (NAE- COB) was not in existence/ operational during the time this institution was offer- ing a program for pharmacists/pharmacy interns.

Seventeen pharmacy interns enrolled with this institution, along with many other registered practicing pharmacists, to upgrade their original licenses.

All mandatory continuing education expectations, both local and abroad, were completed and accepted by the Pharmacy Council for those seven to 10 years of having held licenses and registration with The Bahamas Pharmacy Council for each of those years.

On December 16, 2016, the Pharmacy Council’s registrar and chairman informed these 17 pharmacists that they were no longer pharmacists. They were told that the institution they studied at was not accredited by NAECOB.

Apparently, it was their opinion that previous members of the Pharmacy Council erred in granting renewal licenses and registration in previous years.

Imagine being told to now apply again to the existing Pharmacy Council; to register as a technician and be re-examined in order to re-register and become li- censed yet again to practice as a pharmacist. This is after already being licensed and registered as pharmacists and practicing with no formal reports/complaints for the entire seven to 10-year period.

Will all pharmacists, doctors, nurses, accountants, attorneys, etc. in our country be required to prove that their institution of education falls under the accreditation requirements of this new body, NAECOB?

Will they, too, have their names stricken from their respected registers and become “unlicensed”?

The pharmacists sought advice from the competent authorities, who advised that the aforementioned action of the council was “unheard of” and “unbelievable”. They were advised to take the council to court.

The council won the case solely based on “public safety” concerns.

No proof whatsoever could be brought against any of the 17 pharmacists for their years of practice

that could or would justify public safety concerns.

Whilst respect is given to both the lower court and the Court of Appeal on their position, these 17 pharmacists disagree wholeheartedly with their ruling of not reinstating their licenses to practice pharmacy.

There are approximately 225 registered pharmacists to render services to our population of near 400,000. Consequently, this puts a strain on an already short- staffed sector of pharmacy professionals.

We need our qualified Bahamian pharmacists working!

Finally, all foreigners who are imported to this country should be made to sit and pass the same exam pro- posed for these 17 Bahamian pharmacists, and should be registered and licensed by The Bahamas Pharmacy Council.

Bahamians should not be made to have more rigorous compliances asked of them, in their own country, compared to the hired foreigners.

— Concerned pharmacists

The sound of silence
An uninspiring natio