Civic tech vs. illicit pharmacies

March 23, 2021 from 3:30 pm to 3:40 pm

Speaker: Ibraheem Saleem (Code for Pakistan)

Part of the Scrutiny, oversight & the data that makes it possible session of TICTeC Show and Tells 2021
Tuesday 23rd March, 15:00 – 16:00 GMT

As the third-largest province of Pakistan and host to a rapidly growing population of 30.5 million citizens, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) faces numerous discrepancies in the pharmaceutical sector.

While illegal pharmacies are a big problem across Pakistan, and it is estimated that for approximately 4,000 licensed pharmacies, there are 100,000 other illegal merchants selling medicines in the country, the problem is exacerbated in KP due to limited resources.

There are only 50 drug inspectors in the province, responsible for monitoring 12,000 registered chemist shops across KP. As a result, fake licenses and substandard drugs plague the sector.

In 2019, it was reported that there were 2,500 registered drugstores in the capital city of Peshawar with no official records. Furthermore, 600 drug licences issued were found to be fake on verification. Between 2014 and 2018, 1,471 drugs were declared substandard and 2,322 pharmacies were sealed.

Since 2014 Code for Pakistan has been running the KP Government Innovation Fellowship Program with the KP IT Board and World Bank, bringing together citizen technologists and government departments to innovate in public service delivery and foster transparency, accountability and digital transformation within government.

In 2020, they partnered with the Health Department KP to curb malpractices within the pharmaceutical industry by digitising and automating the license issuing, tracking and renewal process. Since the 1970s the department had been maintaining manual records, with no online system.

The solution has reduced the time for acquiring a license from two months to seven to ten days. Ibraheem shares how a digital system for pharmacy licenses registration was developed and deployed, and the ways in which it has enabled the department to track duplicate and fake licenses, monitor performance of inspectors, save government hours and bring transparency and accountability to the sector.

Link: Code for Pakistan: streamlining pharmacy licence registration processes

Please see the recording of Ibraheem’s presentation below, as well as his presentation slides. You can also find his responses to the post-event Q&A in this document.