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NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University’s Department of Pharmacy has published the country’s first pharmacy technician training manual.

The Southern African Pharmacy Technician Training Manual is the first textbook designed specifically for pharmacy technicians in southern Africa and aims to fill the void for both universities and employers in providing an education and training tool for aspiring pharmacy support personnel.

“The 400-page book is a learning tool for pharmacy technicians in English-speaking countries of the southern African region as part of a university-level course or as part of an on-the-job training programme,” says co-author Teri-Lynne Fogarty, a lecturer and coordinator of the Pharmacy Technician programme at NMMU.

NMMU was the first university in South Africa to offer the qualification.

“Previously, we had to use textbooks from Europe or North America that were not specific to the African context,” said Prof Shirley-Anne Boschmans, a co-author and Head of the Department of Pharmacy at NMMU.  

“This book focuses on technicians’ basic job responsibilities and is designed to be flexible – it can be used as a supplement to classroom instruction or as part of an on-the-job training programme.”

The manual consists of over 400 pages divided into 18 logical, easy-to-follow chapters that include numerous illustrations and examples. 

The book covers topics such as dosage forms, scheduled substances, pharmacy calculations, the dispensing process, patient communications, medical terminology, common disease states, basic pharmacology, and sterile and non-sterile compounding.  A special section covers HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.

While the manual illustrates the laws and practices of South Africa, the co-authors recognise that laws and practices may vary from one country to another so instructors and students from other countries are encouraged to apply their own laws and regulations as necessary.

There are also handy table lists of the most frequently prescribed medications in South Africa with information about brand and generic names, pharmacologic class, most common uses and dosage forms.

According to Prof Boschmans, the manual was made possible through funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and CDC/South Africa and written through a partnership between NMMU’s Department of Pharmacy and the St Louis College of Pharmacy. The latter is managed by the American International Health Alliance’s HIV/AIDS Twinning Center, which is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). 

The Manual is published by Pharmacy Administration Consultants, LLC and based on a U.S. text written by Kenneth W. Schafermeyer of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Publication rights for adaptation of the U.S. text to the South African context were generously provided by Ascend Learning and Jones and Bartlett Learning of Burlington, Massachusetts in the USA.

An instructor’s guide to the manual provides discussion questions, exercises, and sample test questions and is available to instructors who order 20 or more copies. 

As a community service, the manual is provided at cost; neither the publisher nor the distributor make profits on the sale of this manual. 

For further information about purchasing copies of this manual please email