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Jordan, August 17, 2019
Pharmacists association raises red flag on oversaturation

AMMAN — At a time when the unemployment rate among pharmacists stands at 30 per cent, around 16,000 students are currently majoring in pharmaceutical sciences, according to the Jordan Pharmacists Association (JPhA).

“The major has become oversaturated for both males and females,” JPhA President Zeid Kilani told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

Kilani urged the Higher Education Ministry to control the education outcomes and ensure majors are relevant in the labour market, especially since the number of students and graduates of pharmaceutical sciences is much larger than the market’s needs.

The number of pharmacist members in the association stands at 23,699 while the number of students in the academic year 2018/2019 is 15,704, “which is a clear indication that pharmacists seeking jobs will only suffer more”, according to Kilani.

The major comprises 75 per cent Jordanian students and 25 per cent expatriate students, Kilani said, noting that allocating more seats for foreign students could be “one of the most significant solutions” to control unemployment without affecting Jordanian universities.

Among a total of 11,507 female pharmacists, 3,296 are job seekers, according to Kilani.

The association president said they are working to provide jobs for the member pharmacists, but local and regional challenges are hindering the process.

In light of these challenges, he urged students to enrol in majors that are needed in the job market.

Earlier in June this year, Kilani said the pharmaceutical industry was on the “brink of collapse” unless urgent remedial measures were taken.

Over the past few years, 670 pharmacies in the Kingdom shut down after facing financial problems and bankruptcy, which raises a red flag for the sector’s status and performance, Kilani said in a phone interview at the time, noting that there are around 3,500 pharmacies in Jordan — one of the largest ratios in the world.

The issues causing pharmacies to lose revenue instead of generating profit include, but are not limited to, sharp increases in commercial property rent, electricity costs and even the cost of living.

There are also operational costs that include drug shipping and cooling, which when coupled with the aforementioned issues cause the sector to fall apart even further, he said.

One of the solutions Kilani offered at the time focuses mainly on increasing cooperation between the public and private sectors, where the public sector could handle paying 50 per cent of medicines’ prices, allowing the public to purchase them from the private sector for half their price instead of relying completely on the public sector’s health insurance.

In this way, the public sector reduces its burdens, rejuvenates the private sector and brings in more income that could help not only the pharmaceutical sector but “refresh the economy as a whole”.