Face 2 Face with Chuma Baba


Q: What do you do?

A: I work for the Eastern Cape department of health as a pharmacist at All Saints Hospital – Engcobo.


Q: What do you enjoy about it?

A: Pharmacy is a service department. We serve people with their medication needs. I suppose I enjoy the part about serving people and helping them get their medication timeously.


Q: What do you think makes a good pharmacist?

A: The World Heath Organization has a concept called the seven star qualities of a pharmacist. The seven star is a concept in which a pharmacist is described as a caregiver, communicator, decision-maker, teacher, lifelong learner, leader and manager. So anyone who encompasses a good mix of these qualities will make a great pharmacist. Caring is at the core of it.


Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to handling and using medication?

A: There’s a concept called the 5R’s of medicine safety. These include: right drug, right route, right time, right dose and the right patient. Any of these can go wrong for both the end user and/or the healthcare professional. The most common mistakes arise out of incorrect labelling and/or similarities in packaging and artwork.


Q: With prices going up because of the poor economy and inflation, should people expect the prices of meds to increase in the near future?

A: Implicit in the definition of inflation is a general price increase in the economy over time. So the short answer is yes, medicine prices will increase. There are a whole range of factors linked to this, but generally speaking, South Africa imports more than 70% of medicines and raw materials. That is bound to have a knock-on effect on the local economy. However; medicine pricing is highly regulated, so any inflationary pressures fall within a regulated environment.


Q: As a country how would you say we have handled the Covid-19 pandemic?

A: When you read headlines from the BBC and Reuters along the lines of: “Scientists are baffled by Africa’s low fatality rate from the pandemic” then it is most telling. The odds were stacked against us. I would say we have done quite well, considering the challenges we faced. There are unsung heroes and heroines who did their very best to see us through when the pandemic was at its peak. There are obviously things that could have been done better. It’s abhorrent to hear of PPE corruption scandals when people are dying in numbers.


Q: What is your preferred reading material and why?

A: At the moment I’m reading some esoteric stuff on the history of missionary hospitals and trading stations. A friend and I have a two-man book club where we randomly pick a book title and discuss that book twice weekly. This is to reward curiosity and also the fact that knowledge is buried in books and because I do not own a television set for reasons I cannot totally explain, so I end up reading by default because I am lazy to do anything else.


Q: What is your favourite quote?

A: Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: ‘Will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?’  King Odysseus


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