Confidentiality in the Pharmacy Queue

In the communities where we work, Namati’s health advocates collaborate with village health committees to conduct quarterly health facility assessments. The process involves gathering detailed feedback from community members and health workers to assist them in addressing barriers to care.

It was during one of these assessments at Ndlavela Health Centre in Maputo that community members shared their concerns regarding the pharmacy technician’s failure to respect patient confidentiality. In organizing the queue to collect medicines, he regularly used expressions that revealed the type of illness people had come to treat, humiliating many patients and consequently undermining adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the treatment of HIV.

Simão, a 48 year old ART patient, was among those who shared their experience:

“I went to Ndlavela Health Centre for follow-up consultations. After being attended to, I went to the pharmacy to collect my medication as usual. While I was in the waiting area, the technician on duty said: ‘Those who have come to collect HIV medication go to the second window’. The attitude of the technician made me ashamed and embarrassed because the other people who were there looked at us and took notice of the disease we have. In fact, after this episode, I did not set foot in the hospital for some time because it really affected me.”

The health committee members and health advocate requested a meeting with the pharmacy manager and clinical director of the facility, Dulce Paulo. “It was not the first complaint that this health center had received involving the same health provider,” acknowledges Paulo. “He had repeatedly violated the rights of patients undergoing HIV treatment. This situation was worrisome as we had begun to register poor compliance at the pharmacy for drug collection.”

After discussing the issue with the health advocate and health committee, Paulo and the pharmacy manager met with the technician in question to give him a verbal warning and explain the importance of respecting patient dignity and confidentiality.

Over the course of the next month, the health committee and health advocate monitored the behavior of the pharmacy technician. To their dismay, his problematic actions continued. The health facility leadership consequently transferred him to the pharmacy warehouse, where he currently works as a stocker and packager of medicines, without any direct contact with patients.

As the clinical director concludes, “In coordination with members of the health committee and the health advocate it was possible to overcome the problem.”


March 21, 2022 | Namati Mozmbique

Region: Mozambique