Let them feminize pharmacies

By : Mohammed Al-Ihaidib

Studies say that based on our current university input, we need at least 140 years to fulfill our needs for Saudi male and female pharmacists. Other studies, which are less optimistic, say we need about 500 years to do this.

They say with the increasing number of government and private hospitals, drug factories and the increasing requirement for pharmacists by the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) to man customs checkpoints at the country’s various entry points, it will not be possible to satisfy the growing demand for pharmacists.

Last week, a local newspaper said the Labor Ministry was intent on feminizing private pharmacies. The ministry said the decision would be effective early 2017.

The decision has exasperated opponents of the feminization process and surprised those who have knowledge of the statistical studies about the shortage of professionals in the healthcare cadre.

Both the government and private pharmacies have the appropriate atmosphere for women and men to work together. Private hospitals pay lucrative salaries to pharmacists to work in their internal pharmacies.

In the light of this, how can any reasonable person expect a Saudi female pharmacist to work in a private pharmacy at a monthly salary of SR3,000 when she will be paid at least SR16,000 by private hospitals?

The owner of any private pharmacy will not be willing to appoint Saudi female pharmacists. He has not appointed Saudi male pharmacists, so how can we expect him to appoint women?

The owner of a private pharmacy may, however, be willing to employ Saudi women pharmacists if the Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf), is ready to pay about 80 percent of their salaries within its drive to feminize pharmacies.

The fund will be faced by the scarcity of Saudi female pharmacists. It should realize that the pharmacist, male or female, is a holder of a bachelor’s degree from a university and not just a secondary school certificate holder like the Saudi females who work in women’s fashion shops.

The statistics, which the decision maker has either ignored or has not been informed about, say that there are 7,000 private pharmacies in the Kingdom employing not more than 1 percent of Saudi male pharmacists. If Saudi male pharmacists are not attracted to work in private pharmacies, how can we expect Saudi female pharmacists to do so?

If the Labor Ministry continues with its decision to feminize pharmacies, the loser will be both our minds and our homeland.





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