Inspections conducted by Dire Dawa Health Bureau over the last three months revealed a number of pharmacies providing home based healthcare services operating illegally. The Bureau revoked the permits of six pharmacies, and suspended three more for two months, following a sudden round of inspection the past few months.
The pharmacies, which obtained home based health care service licenses, have been found selling illegally imported and expired medicine, issuing hospital cards and generally overstepping bounds of their operational mandates as home based health service providers.
Twenty two other pharmacies were given final warning. Currently, 74 pharmacies provide services across the city.
“We found that many pharmacies are providing services they are not qualified for,” said Serido Umar, Director of Health and Health-Related Quality Control at the city’s health bureau. “They are also issuing hospital visit cards, and prescribing drugs.”
The need for accessible and home based health care service was the impetus for the start of door-to-door health services in the country years ago. Following a new law in 2015, which set the minimum requirements for embarking on these services, various health centers took up the opportunity to provide health care at home. The services were aimed at providing preventive and palliative care, pain management, and terminal care among others.
Patients with cancer, hypertension, mental illness, and bedridden patients, are those intended to be supported with the service.
Dire Dawa Administration Health Bureau similarly gave licenses to health facilities according to the criteria set out. Now, the bureau is warning the community to take caution as the number of illegal health services have emerged.
Some of these facilities are pharmacies providing service without fulfilling the pre-set criteria while others are acting outside the legal framework and prescribing medicine to patients.
Part of the requirements set out for these home based health care services is providing services based on the patient documentation which is the medication or treatment authorized by a treating physician. In many cases observed by the city’s health bureau, however, the service providers are diagnosing and prescribing medication to patients.
The repercussions of these trespasses can cause great harm to the country according to Serido who urges community members to contact police.
“It’s not within their jurisdiction to issue cards or diagnose patients,” he explained.
“There is medicine that isn’t licensed by authorities and they give that out to patients,” said Yodit Zewdu, a pharmacist at Robson’s Private Pharmacy in Dire Dawa.
During the past three months, the city’s health bureau conducted discussions with experts in the field and private pharmaceutical retailers, according to Yusuf Seid, Deputy Head of the Bureau. Furthermore, irregularities in the sale of pharmaceutical drugs like an unjustified increase in price, illegal home based health care, and the inability of pharmacies to provide 24-hour service are pinpointed.
“We’re working on setting up a schedule for all pharmacies found in the city to be open 24 hours a day,” said Yusuf.