Home > Health
Pharmacy Job: Non-Specialists And Teenagers Selling us Life
  Written By:
  Article Date: December 29, 2008 


What could happen when some people do jobs irrelevant to their specializations? What results could be if these jobs are of those necessarily requiring specialists such as a pharmacy job where a mistake could kill. Even though the pharmacist job is very important, many of those we buy medicines from are not specialists; they are not pharmacists.

The worst is that many employees at pharmacies are young sellers with only high school certificates and sometimes with primary school certificates. Medicine teenager sellers, who work as pharmacists in Yemen, exercise their profession at many pharmacies across the republic and even at big and famous pharmacies.

Pharmacies spread at many medical centers in Yemen particularly in poor areas where bad living conditions force many people to work long hours for low salaries. Some pharmacists take advantage of the current situation to employ unspecialized people and young students to work at their pharmacies. These pharmacists train unspecialized young students, mostly high school students, in the process of selling medications ignoring that pharmacist job is very dangerous.

A pharmacist in the Al Safiya area in Sana’a, says he employed two students to work at his pharmacy. All he did to train these students was to help them memorize names of medicines.

He said these students work during school holidays in summer and for low salaries, claiming specialist pharmacists deny working for such low salaries.

Another pharmacist says in Yemen there is an exception as the responsibility of a pharmacist is restricted to selling medicines.  However, he says in other countries there must be specialist pharmacists as medicines are packed in pharmacies.  ‘Pharmacists in Yemen just sell medicines described by doctors for patients and I think when they advise patients to come back to their doctors they do what they must do’ he says. No need for specialist pharmacists as the main task of a pharmacist in Yemen is only to sell medications, he says.

Sale skills

Mosleh Ali Saleh says that once while buying a medicine from a nearby pharmacy, he was surprised when he saw a boy under 16 selling medicine to him. When I asked him who was the pharmacy owner he replied that he was the owner. As the nearest pharmacy, I took the medicine he sold me and returned to my doctor who told me that was not the medicine he had described for me. I returned to the boy and asked him how he learnt the pharmacy job and who was the owner of the pharmacy he was working in.

The boy replied that his father was the owner of the pharmacy and that his father had taught him names of medicines particularly of those for child treatment and those people can buy without doctor description. The boy said names of medicines were easy to memorize and that his father also taught him new medicines.

Despite pharmacist job is one that requires specialist workers, Yemenis continue to buy medicines from unspecialized and unlicensed pharmacists without coming back to doctors for consultation over bought medicines and they don't take into account possible harmful consequences.


It is very necessary that a specialist pharmacist be in a specialization-relevant job as this is always important for either specialist or beneficiaries. A specialist can with this job improve his professional skills and beneficiaries can ensure that they get what they want safely, pharmacist Mansour Al-Haifi says. Al-Haifi who currently works as a public relation officer says a person while on a job irrelevant to his major, this person’s professional performance could be affected negatively.

Huda Hassan, although she was the top student in her class, she has not yet found a job as a pharmacist. She said that she has tried to find a job relevant to her discipline, but she was often told that her specialization can’t help students to get jobs easily.

She felt sorry for years she had attended university, saying it is sad that a person spends several years at university and finally becomes disappointed over getting an appropriate job.

After lengthy searching for a job that complies with her specialization, Arwa Al-Jaifi, a female pharmacist affirmed that it was difficult to meet her goal. She was disappointed and compelled to sell her license to another unspecialized one for a low sum monthly, she said.

“I didn’t expect that such a job requires practical experience,” a specialist pharmacist Tamir Abdul Majeed says after he completed almost six years studying at the faculty of medicine. A pharmacist in Yemen is a seller as other sellers, he says.  

Specialization required

Pharmacist Ali Al-Sima says that in some cases there are different medicines for one disease, he says, adding these different medicines have side effects and must be bought after doctor consultation.

Some medicines are not easily available and in this case a specialist pharmacist can give patients alternative remedies, providing that this pharmacist advises patients to revisit their doctors for consultation over these substitutes, he adds.

A doctor may not be aware of new medicines; however, a specialist pharmacist must be, he says. The important thing is that there are similar names of various medications which then must be sold according to a doctor’s description such as medicines to treat diabetes, he says, adding a specialist pharmacist can pay more attention to some dangerous medicines than unspecialized pharmacists, who focus only money advantages. 

Contrary to some important jobs, most of them don’t deal with health problems, medicine professions definitely require attendance at colleges, a child specialist Muhammad Qashnoon says. If a pharmacist makes a mistake while giving a medicine for a patient, consequently, patient’s health would be harmed, especially as patients tend to be idle to come back to doctors for consultation over medicines, he says.

Medicines are not like other goods for which money is put ahead of all interests. Consequences may be very dangerous if goods like medicines are misused; death could be a result in this case.

80 percent of workers at pharmacies in Yemen are not specialists, as if the job of pharmacists has become to sell medications, with the real nature of this job being ignored, Dr. Ahmed Shamsan says.

For this reason, doctors advise patients to revisit them after buying medicines for confirmation and consultation, he said.

Curbing the phenomenon

Deputy Minister of Public Health and Population for medicine affairs Ghazi Ismail said the appearance of non-specialist pharmacist happens in remote areas where there is not sufficient monitoring. He affirmed the ministry will deploy force tasks to inspect pharmacies and would take necessary measures to tackle the phenomenon completely over the next month.


People who do jobs that don’t comply with their specializations find themselves involved in jobs they have to accomplish while they are unspecialized, says Hamoud Al-Udi, professor of Sociology at the Sana’a University.