Patients in distress will now have more and easier access to vital drugs at odd hours and weekends.
The recent decision of the National Order of Cameroon Pharmacists to extend the opening hours on weekdays and weekends for pharmacies as well as the number of pharmacies on standby daily has been a much welcomed relief, at least to those who have had the awful experience of chasing drugs at odd hours.
Many are a drug buyer who had hitherto faced an ordeal in procuring life-saving drugs at certain periods of the day or week. The experiences are common and widespread. Besides not having easy access to information pertaining to which pharmacy in town is on standby, patients in search of drugs at odd hours had to cover very long distances and spend limited time too before they could find solace.
The situation was even more complicated on weekends as pharmacies across the country closed as early as 1pm.
The outcome was that much money was spent on such search operations for pharmacies on standby or to cover long distances to find one. Also, it can undoubtedly be said that some lives must have been lost because certain life-serving drugs could not be immediately obtained from the pharmacy late in the night.
Against these backdrops, it can generally be agreed that the extension of the closing hours for pharmacies from 7pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 1pm to 9pm on weekends can only be considered a worthwhile decision.
It is strategic in that it will give more time for patients to buy drugs, especially on weekends. This will obviously ease access to drugs and technically up the sales of pharmacies.
Besides extending the opening hours for pharmacies, the recent decision has also come with a novelty. The pharmacies on standby will be segmented; that is one pharmacy will be put on standby per day in a specific area, thereby guaranteeing proximity.
This is unlike before whereby people in search of drugs could cross two council areas within a city before finding one.
Also, the number of pharmacies on standby on weekdays, just like those for weekends, will be considerably increased. All these will ease access to drugs, thereby promoting universal health coverage.
People will henceforth buy drugs without incurring an extra financial burden or finding drugs only when the situation of the supposed drug consumer has jumped to a life-threatening stage or the patient has given up.