SIAPS partners with the University of Namibia to host the third international medicine utilization research symposium

Participants in the third MURIA symposium at the University of Namibia’s Faculty of Health Sciences Campus in Windhoek. Photo credit: Stanley Stephanus (MSH/SIAPS Namibia)

SIAPS provided technical assistance to the University of Namibia-School of Pharmacy (UNAM-SoP) in organizing the third international Medicines Utilisation Research in Africa (MURIA) workshop and symposium in Windhoek, June 26–28, 2017. With the theme of “Medicine utilisation research in Africa, influencing patient care and policy”, the conference highlighted the importance of building the capacity of health care professionals to address challenges to drug utilization research. Participants from 16 countries presented their findings on antimicrobial governance, rational medicine use, pricing considerations of medicines, and other topics.

The Chief Pharmacist of the Division of Pharmaceutical Services of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Mr. Kennedy Kambyambya, indicated that the MURIA symposium is an important platform for Namibia to share and learn about experiences in operational research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and medicine use. It is anticipated that the workshop will lead to studies on achieving the government’s “Health for All Namibians” goal.

During a press conference, the Dean of the UNAM Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof. Peter Nyarang’o, stated that “Six years ago, there was no capacity for drug resistance studies. Salvation was sought elsewhere and was costly. Now we have capacity for resistance studies to inform government policy on drugs imported and for clinicians on best options available.”

SIAPS Senior Technical Advisor Bayobuya Phulu presents on “Pharmaceutical information dashboard enhances evidence-based decision making in ART pharmaceutical services in Namibia”. Photo credit: Stanley Stephanus (MSH/SIAPS Namibia)

UNAM students and managers in the Division of Pharmaceutical Services of the MoHSS presented key findings on medicine use operational research, including antimicrobials, standard treatment guidelines, and information for decision making.

With the development of Namibia’s AMR intervention model in 2013, UNAM has been identified as a key partner in promoting rational medicine use (RMU), conducting AMR-related operational research, and adapting AMR/RMU in course materials for health workers. Through SIAPS’s support for AMR research in the country, the university developed the capacity to test first-level drug resistance. SIAPS has supported UNAM-SoP by providing an assessment of human resources and in-service pharmaceutical management trainings and has conducted operational research led by pharmacy students during their field work in rural health facilities using SIAPS tools.

In the months leading to the 2018 MURIA workshop and symposium in Namibia, stakeholders will engage in a number of initiatives, including collecting more reliable data on clinical trials in Africa, rational use of insulin, antibiotic use for HIV patients, and a position statement on self purchasing of antibiotics.

Compiled by Wezi Tjaronda, Harriet Kagoya-Kibuule, Bayobuya Phulu, and Stanley Stephanus (SIAPS in Namibia)