6 Dec 2008
There are about 350 private pharmacy shops serving a population of 17million people. Majority of these community pharmacies are located in the two principal cities of Yaounde and Douala. When trade liberalization was introduced in the profession over a decade ago, community pharmacists opted to maintain a single price structure for most medicines nationwide and thus prevented profiteering and anarchy in the sector. The price of a packet of any medicine in a pharmacy in the port city of Douala does not differ with the price of that medicine in Maroua that is over 1000kilometres from Douala where the shipment of the drug was discharged.
All the community pharmacies in Cameroon obtain their supplies of pharmaceuticals from a handful of wholesale companies. Currently Laborex and U.C Pharm are major players that are responsible for the legal importation and distribution of over 90% of the drugs sold in community pharmacies in Cameroon. By law the wholesalers are required to deliver the purchased drugs on the doorstep of pharmacies. Most community pharmacies place their orders by phone, fax or emails and wholesale companies make daily deliveries to them. Wholesale companies in turn arrange to import products from all those manufacturers whose products have been licensed for sale in Cameroon. The main sources of pharmaceutical products sold in Cameroon are France and India.
Laborex & U.C Pharm: Major players in Cameroon's pharmaceutical sector (photo: Njei M.T)
Most pharmacies are fully computerized and they open to the public between 8 a.m and 8 p.m and night service is covered by the Pharmacies on call. Different towns have their respective call duty rosters. Depending on the size of the pharmacies, the staff strength ranges from five to fifteen.
Medical representatives of manufacturers are involved in product presentation and promotion only. The legal importation of pharmaceuticals destined for community pharmacies is done by wholesale companies.
Social Life: Like with many professionals, Pharmacists belong to different socio-cultural subgroups within the profession. These groups help to bring pharmacists together in solidarity during time of joy and sorrow. Click on this link to view different images of Cameroonian pharmacists socializing http://www.flickr.com/photos/njei_timah/sets/72157594253681429/
Continuing Education: Acting individually or collectively, Cameroonian pharmacists are involved in different forms of continuing education. While some delve deeper into various medical domains like the management of such chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS, others explore other fields unrelated to pharmacy. Medical symposia organized by some manufacturers, wholesalers and sub-professional groups usually bring specialists of various medical fields to give lectures to pharmacists on current trends in medicine.
Continuing education (left) and sympathizing with a departed colleague (right) photo: Njei M.T
Problems: Some of the problems plaguing this sector of the profession include high taxes, burglaries and robberies and the illicit sales of medicines by unauthorized persons. You can read about the fight against illicit practice at this link:
Excursions: Cameroonian based private sector Pharmacists have routinely organized themselves in conjunction with the wholesalers to make annual tours to various parts of the World. They usually travel in groups ranging from 20 to 50 persons. Group tourism is usually cheaper and more enjoyable. In the past ten years, Pharmacist from Cameroon have made group tours to such countries as France, Italy, Turkey, UAE, Egypt, Morroco, South Africa, India, China, Indonesia, USA, Cuba, Vietnam, Singapore, Brazil and the French Island of Guadeloupe. You can read about some of the trips at these links.
Cameroonian pharmacists visit Singapore May 2010
Cameroonian pharmacists visit Vietnam April 2010
Cameroonian pharmacists visit Cuba 2007
Cameroonian Pharmacists visit India 2005
Paris, France 2003
Visit to China 2003
Njei Moses Timah