Background: There is increasing recognition of the potential significant contribution that pharmacy personnel can make to improve the public’s health. However, there is an evidence gap in developing countries on the public health role of pharmacy personnel. Objectives: This study aimed to explore the current public health activities that pharmacy professionals in Zimbabwe are currently involved in, and the potential of expanding this role. Methods: The study utilised individual, face-to-face, semi-structured qualitative interviews with 9 key informants. The sample reflected the diversity of pharmacy practice groups and levels as well as professional experience, and included a representative from a patient group, and a non-pharmacist national level public health expert. Data collection and analysis was an iterative process informed both by the currently available literature on the topic, as well as themes emerging from the data. Framework analysis was utilised with two independent analyses performed. Key findings: There was a general consensus among participants that pharmacy practice in Zimbabwe was mainly focused on curative services, with very limited involvement in public health oriented activities. The following were identified as pharmacists’ current public health activities: supply chain management of pharmaceutical products, provision of medications and other pharmaceutical products to patients, therapy monitoring, identification and monitoring of chronic illnesses, information provision and training of pharmacists. Nevertheless, there were concerns regarding the quality of some of these services, and lack of consistency in provision across pharmacies. Other potential areas for pharmacists’ public health practice were identified as emergency response, drug abuse, addressing social determinants of health particularly promoting healthy lifestyles, applied health research, counterfeit and substandard medicines, and advocacy. Conclusions: There is a perceived potential for Zimbabwean pharmacists to become more involved in public health oriented services. However, concerns regarding the quality of services and lack of consistency in provision need to be addressed.
- pharmacy and pharmacology