01 August 2017

The MCAs; an unsung heroes in pharmaceutical service delivery – Starr Fm

This article has been necessitated by the seemingly poor recognition given Medicine Counter Assistants (MCAs), their immense contribution to the pharmaceutical industry and public health notwithstanding.

Ideally, every individual needs to be of a sound mind and body in order to effectively achieve their God given potentials and Ghanaians are no exception. Why MCAs then? Ghana has developed National medium term development frameworks such as the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2006-2009), and Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) 2014-2017 to guide its development. In similar manner the health sector has consistently been developing its medium term health strategies since 1997, the current one being the Health Sector Medium Term Development Plan (2014-2017)//WHO/CCU/14.03/Ghana.

Government has been implementing a number of strategies and policies aimed at promoting Universal Healthcare. In a speech read on behalf of  the then  health minister, Alex Segbefia, the Minister promised to support Association of Medicine Counter Assistants, Ghana (AMCAG) in their operations and this must be timely so that the MCA’s can stake their claim of improving healthcare delivery in the country.

According to World Health Organization (W.H.O.), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. That is, health is a dynamic condition resulting from a body’s constant adjustment and adaptation in response to stresses and changes in the environment for maintaining an inner equilibrium, therefore, if the health of a nation’s human resources are physically, mentally and socially positioned; it overcome stress and ill health hence output will be on the rise. To keep up with our developmental activities (goals) and to improve healthcare service to all, then Medicine Counter Assistants deserve the recognition it is championing. According to Joan Halifex, “if compassion is so good for us, why don’t we train our health care providers in compassion so that they can do what they’re supposed to do, which is transform suffering?” and transform it exceptionally.

In the year 2007 Pharmacy council introduced the Medicine Counter Assistants program to form part of the Pharmaceutical care team to dispense both over-the-counter and prescription medications under the supervision of a pharmacist. A Medicine Counter Assistant is a person who has completed the prescribed training required, to assist other members of the pharmaceutical care team, to provide optimal pharmaceutical care to patients by performing various duties in accordance with the Pharmacy Act, 1994 (Act 489) and any other regulations prescribed by the Pharmacy Council. Some duties performed by members include but not limited to the following; Keeping the Pharmacy tidy, Customer Service, Sale of Over- the- Counter medicines (OTC’s) under supervision, Assist in Inventory management, Clerical task, Basic Health Education, Assist in purchasing, Assist in Dispensing, Assist in pre-packaging of medication, Sorting out of Medications under supervision, Assist in the receipt of money and Other duties that may improve efficiency in the pharmaceutical service delivery. A Medicine Counter Assistants is thus to be trained to offer advice on common ailments and must know when to refer a patient(s) (customers) to a pharmacist.  In a recent study, it was found out that Medicine Counter Assistants deal with 84% of the deregulated medications requested globally, without the formal involvement of a pharmacist.

Medicine Counter Assistants pride themselves as front-line healthcare workers carrying out an important role in the health sector. Could this be true? It is easier for an individual to patronize the services of a pharmacy or Chemical Shop than to pay for treatment at the hospital in a developing country like Ghana, it is for this reason that the Association of Medicine Counter Assistants, Ghana (AMCAG), the official association of all Medicine Counter Assistants was formed and has its inception purposed to equip its members with the requisite skills and knowledge through trainings and workshops to ensure efficiency in the sector. Association of Medicine Counter Assistants, Ghana is a formidable non-profit organization established to design and equip Medicine Counter Assistant with a winning formula through well tested strategies and policies to ensure quality healthcare delivery in the country (Ghana). The association therefore, offers a variety of regional and community based fitness programmes and professional advice to members on how to advice on common ailments, and sickness. Furthermore, it is to help create opportunities for individuals and families to effectively respond to the challenges of modern healthcare service delivery through direct support to individuals, training and education.

The notion that Medicine Counter Assistants are just there to prescribe and sell medicine(s) to treat basic aliments must be debunked. The Medicine Counter Assistants are trained professionally to ensure the effective delivery of quality healthcare service in their community and country at large. Medications to be given to patients who report at the pharmacy (drug store) ought to meet the required standards so as to avoid the risk of abuse and misuse at home by patients/individuals.

Objective 6 of the Association of Medicine Counter Assistants, Ghana (AMCAG) constitution sates that “the Medicine Counter Assistants is to help raise the image of the profession to the public”. So in the line of duty, image needs to be developed, upheld and defended as stakeholders of health in the country. Daniel Akata once said “a tremendous amount of needless pain and suffering can be eliminated by ensuring that health insurance is universally available”.

It is in view of making healthcare delivery accessible to Ghanaians that we campaign to be given the necessary recognition and respect to project effective healthcare delivery in the country. Finally, we solicit the indulgence and respect of the pharmacy council of Ghana to intensify efforts at renewing the expired certificates of MCAs as highlighted during our immediate past annual workshop this year. Finally, let’s always seek professional advice and treatment when suffering an ailment or sickness and MCAs will strive to put a lasting smile on your face.

AMCAG, Better health Long life.

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