Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist April 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist April 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Six months in Swaziland working as a project pharmacist in tough
conditions is not everyone's idea of the perfect job.
However, for young Australian
pharmacist Rachel Sun, Swaziland has
allowed her to put her values of helping
others into practice.
She will soon complete a six-month
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
volunteer placement at the town of
Nhlangano (pronounced Nkuh-long-on-
oh) in the Shiselweni region two hour's
drive south of Mbabane, the capital.
Rachel told Australian Pharmacist that
as the largest humanitarian medical
aid organisation in the world MSF was,
to her, the most attractive option.
'I have always wanted to use the
education and skills I have to
benefit those who are in need and
in disadvantaged situations. MSF's
practical work, charter of neutrality and
impartiality and policy of speaking out
all align with my personal beliefs and
views,' Rachel said.
'This placement has been positive and
rewarding. I have made wonderful
friends, learned a great deal about
myself and gained many skills in a very
short period of time. I have also been
challenged in my personal beliefs and
'I have achieved my personal goal
of being part of MSF, working with a
diverse and interesting team and being
stretched and challenged professionally.
There were also many down times
and stressful situations but this has all
caused me to grow as a person,' she said.
'I would have never have had the
opportunity to be part of such a big
HIV and TB project at home and the
knowledge and skills I have gained as a
pharmacist through this experience are
'The project I am working on is
responsible for supporting all 23 clinics
in the Shiselweni region (population
approx. 200,000). My role as the
Project Pharmacist is multifaceted.
The main responsibilities, however, are
to ensure drug supply to all the clinics
and to advocate at the Ministry of
Health (MoH) on issues of drug supply
'I am also the technical referent for the
pharmacy technicians employed by MSF
and I oversee the education and training
of the pharmacy assistants in the region.'
Rachel said that the project was unusual
in that MSF was generally independent
but here it had decided to work within
the MoH. On the positive side this was
good because what is established
through the project was more likely to
continue after MSF leaves.
However, on the down side she needed
to have the correct approval/paperwork
before implementing programs or
starting health initiatives.
This meant repeated trips to the capital
to have meetings, attend technical
working groups about policies,
medications supply process and other
medications shortage issues.
'The thought of the two-hour drives to
and from Mbabane exhausts me. We
have so many cows crossing the road
you have to slow down not hit them.
'Swaziland is beautiful. It is full of hills
and valleys covered in tree plantations.
A chance to make a
di erence with MSF
BY ANDREW DANIELS
It is also poor but not the poorest
African country,' she said.
In Swaziland only hospitals have
pharmacists. Health centre/clinics only
have pharmacy technicians or pharmacy
assistants. In the Shiselweni region there
is one pharmacist at the one hospital,
a regional overseeing pharmacist, and
Rachel. There are seven pharmacy
technicians (four are MSF staff ) and
12 Pharmacy assistants (all MSF).
Rachel looks after all the MSF pharmacy
staff and collaborates with the others.
Her five-year plan for now is to return to
Australia and work in 'a super, well paid
job for 12--24 months and save all the
money so I can afford to go on more
Originally from China, Rachel and her
family relocated to regional Queensland
when she was 12. She attended high
school at Gatton, a small in the Lockyer
Valley in south-east Queensland.
She went on to study pharmacy at
Griffith University on the Gold Coast.
After graduating in 2009 she worked on
the Gold Coast as a locum pharmacist
and pharmacist in charge at various
Three years later she relocated to
regional Victoria to pursue work in
hospital pharmacy and was pharmacist
in charge at the Mildura Base Hospital
for five months before moving on to
work for seven months in a community
pharmacy at Mildura and applied for a
volunteer placement with MSF.
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