Soon pharmacists may don the role of a medical practitioner in rural areas if the proposal made by the Indian Pharmacist Association (IPA) to the Union Ministry of Health comes through. The IPA has suggested that pharmacists be allowed to double up as non-doctor medical cadre in the rural areas with some additional training as they already have knowledge of pharmacology.
IPA has stated in its representation made to the Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan last month that, “Union Cabinet has approved BSc Community Health course. The main objective of the course as stated is to create mid-level health professionals with necessary public health and ambulatory care competencies to serve the rural population.MBBS can’t be substituted with any other cadre. The course is against the wishes of ‘The Parliamentary Standing Committee on health’.”
The IPA has further argued that states are not interested in starting the course because of inadequate syllabus. Bhupendra Kumar, secretary general of the IPA feels that, “If the government wishes to introduce non-doctor based cadre in India, working and experienced pharmacists can serve the purpose with a short duration up-gradation training curriculum.”
He added that pharmacists are vastly available with qualification ranging from D. Pharma, B. Pharma, M. Pharma, PhD to Pharm D. Pharmacists are already well trained in pharmacology of drugs and other areas. The IPA is yet to hear from the ministry on its plea.
The major reason behind IPA’s representation to the ministry is that job creation for pharmacists has been in a slow lane, and this has also resulted in several students staying away from courses in pharmacy colleges across the country. Even state pharmacy councils point out that there indeed has been a decline in interest surrounding the profession.
Pradip Trivedi, president, Gujarat State Pharmacy Council (GSPC) said, “The job creation in the pharmacy sector has been very slow. Most students who pass out have to opt for jobs as medical representatives or salesmen etc.” The result is that in place of over 5,500 students passing out from Gujarat’s 70 odd pharmacy colleges every year, the number has fallen to around 2,500 to 2,800 students per year, he claimed.
The IPA has thus also raised a demand of revising the entry level grade pay of pharmacists from PB-1 (as per the 6th Pay Commission) to PB-2, to encourage more young students to come forward and join the profession.