Published: 2021-07-22

Knowledge and preparedness of community pharmacists in the fight against COVID-19 in Zambia

Jimmy Mapenzi Hangoma, Steward Mudenda, Mpande Mukumbwa Mwenechanya, Aubrey Chichoni Kalungia


Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has severely strained healthcare systems globally. Community pharmacists remain vital health professionals with unique roles in responding to symptoms, supplying medicines and providing health promotion in the communities where they serve. The purpose of this study was to assess knowledge and preparedness of community pharmacists in the fight against COVID-19 in Zambia.

Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted among 300 registered community pharmacists in Zambia from April to May 2020. A self-administered online questionnaire was used to collect the data. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data using the statistical package for social sciences version 23. All statistical tests were set at 95% confidence level (p<0.05).

Results: From a total of 393 community pharmacists, 300 participated in the study indicating a response rate of 76.3%. 97% of the pharmacists knew the common signs and symptoms of COVID-19, 83% knew the national guidelines for screening criteria and 93% were aware that a suspected case of COVID-19 presenting to the community pharmacy needed to be alerted to the national response team. Only 59% knew they needed to self-isolate and self-report should they experience symptoms of COVID-19. 85% stated that personal protective equipment was inadequate in the pharmacies they operated from. 60% of the pharmacists were prepared to participate in the frontline fight against COVID-19.

Conclusions: Community pharmacists in Zambia are knowledgeable about COVID-19 signs and symptoms including the technical guidelines on the screening and detection of suspected cases. Community pharmacists are prepared to participate in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Zambia.


Community pharmacy, Community pharmacists, Coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19, Frontline workers, Pandemic, Preparedness, Zambia

Full Text:



Wilder-Smith A, Chiew CJ, Lee VJ. Can we contain the COVID-19 outbreak with the same measures as for SARS? Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;20(5):102-7.

Singhal T. A review of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Indian J Pediatr. 2020;87(4):281-6.

Sohrabi C, Alsafi Z, O’Neill N, Khan M, Kerwan A, Al-Jabir A, et al. World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Int J Surg. 2020;76:71-6.

Worldometer. Fact sheet: Coronavirus Disease, 2019. Available at: https://www.worldometers. info/coronavirus/. Accessed on 14 March 2021.

WHO. Fact sheet: (Coronavirus disease 2019 (‎COVID-19)‎: situation report, 72. Available at: Accessed on 14 March 2021.

Ozili PK. COVID-19 in Africa: socioeconomic impact, policy response, and opportunities. Int J Sociol Soc Policy. 2020.

Ataguba JE. COVID-19 Pandemic, a War to be Won: Understanding its Economic Implications for Africa. Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2020;18(3):325-8.

Mudenda S. Letter to editor: coronavirus disease (COVID-19): a global health problem. Int J Pharmaceut Pharmacol. 2020;4(1).

Republic of Zambia, Ministry of Health. Fact sheet: Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI). Available at: uploads/2020/03/Ministerial-statement_COVID-19-SI_14Mar2020_min.pdf. Accessed on 14 March 2021.

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). Fact sheet: SRAS-CoV-2 outbreak preparedness, 2021. Available at: Accessed on 14 March 2021.

Kalungia AC, Burger J, Godman B, Costa JO, Simuwelu C. Non-prescription sale and dispensing of antibiotics in community pharmacies in Zambia. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2016;14(12):1215-23.

Phiri MN, Banda M, Mudenda S, et al. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): the role of pharmacists in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Int J Pharm Pharmacol. 2020;4(1):143.

Cadogan CA, Hughes CM. On the frontline against COVID-19: community pharmacists' contribution during a public health crisis. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):2032-5.

Wang CJ, Ng CY, Brook RH. Response to COVID-19 in Taiwan: big data analytics, new technology, and proactive testing. JAMA. 2020;323(14):1341-2.

Carico RR, Sheppard J, Thomas CB. Community pharmacists and communication in the time of COVID-19: Applying the health belief model. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):1984-7.

Putt Newswire. Fact sheet: Health care policy: walgreens, cvs health step up buyout offers during pandemic, 2020. Available at: https://www.truthrx. org/puttnewswire/health-care-policy-walgreens-cvs-health-step-up-buyout-offers-during-pandemic. Accessed on 14 March 2021.

Amariles P, Ledezma-Morales M, Salazar-Ospina A, Hincapié-García JA. How to link patients with suspicious COVID-19 to health system from the community pharmacies? A route proposal. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):1988-9.

Adunlin G, Murphy PZ, Manis M. COVID-19: how can rural community pharmacies respond to the outbreak? J Rural Health. 2021;37(1):153-5.

Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA). Available at: Accessed on 14 March 2021.

Hui DS, Azhar E, Madani TA, Ntoumi F, Kock R, Dar O, et al. The continuing 2019-nCoV epidemic threat of novel coronaviruses to global health-the latest 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. Int J Infect Dis. 2020;91:264-6.

WHO. Fact sheet: Infection prevention and control of epidemic and pandemic-prone acute respiratory infections in health care. Available at:;jsessionid=2951A95A10A851883E036F6869AE985B?sequence=1. Accessed on 14 March 2021.

Ung COL. Community pharmacist in public health emergencies: quick to action against the coronavirus 2019-nCoV outbreak. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2020;16(4):583-6.

Special Committee for Drug Borne Diseases of Chinese Pharmacology Society. Self-management strategies for home-living elderly patients on multiple drugs for treating chronic disease [EB/OL]. Available at: YpCTEWvPcHdPtVnTK41mjw. Accessed on 20 February 2020.

Liu S, He G, Du J, Wang D, Shi C, Huang Q, et al. Pharmaceutical emergency guarantee difficulties and countermeasures for the prevention and control of an outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP). Chin J Hosp Pharm. 2020;40(3):243-9.

Zheng SQ, Yang L, Zhou PX, Li HB, Liu F, Zhao RS. Recommendations and guidance for providing pharmaceutical care services during COVID-19 pandemic: a China perspective. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):1819-24.

Wei M, Chen Q, Yu DM. The development of pharmaceutical care in domestic and foreign communities and its enlightenment on establishing pharmacy major in China. Chin Pharmaceut J. 2010;12:98-100.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fact sheet: Preventing COVID-19 spread in communities. Available at: https://www.cdc. gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html. Accessed on 15 March 2021.

World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: when and how to use masks [EB/OL]. Available at: https://www. Accessed on 04 March 2020.

Chinese Academy of Medical Science Peking Union Medical College. Peking Union Medical College Novel Coronavirus Infection Prevention Q&A for the Public [EB/OL]. Beijing: Publishing House of Peking Union Medical College; 2020. Available at: message&isappinstalled=0. Accessed on 20 February 2020.

Basheti IA, Nassar R, Barakat M, Alqudah R, Abufarha R, Mukattash TL, et al. Pharmacists' readiness to deal with the coronavirus pandemic: Assessing awareness and perception of roles. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(3):514-22.

Banda M, Neene V, Mudenda S. Community pharmacists’ role as antibiotic stewards in the fight against coronavirus disease 2019. World J Adv Res Revs. 2020;8(1):1-5.

Mudenda S, Witika BA, Sadiq MJ, Banda M, Mfune RL, Daka V, et al. Self-medication and its consequences during and amp; after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: a global health problem. Eur J Environ Public Heal. 2020;5(1):0066.

Osaigbovo II, Ogboghodo EO, Obaseki DE, Akoria O, Ehinze ES, Obarisiagbon OE, et al. Pattern of drug sales at community pharmacies in edo state as evidence of self-medication during the COVID-19 pandemic: implications for policy implementation. Niger Health J. 2021;20(4):150-8.

Mazdeyasna H, Nori P, Patel P, Doll M, Godbout E, Lee K, et al. Antimicrobial stewardship at the core of COVID-19 response efforts: implications for sustaining and building programs. Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2020;22(9):23.

Pelfrene E, Botgros R, Cavaleri M. Antimicrobial multidrug resistance in the era of COVID-19: a forgotten plight? Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2021;10:21.

Stevens MP, Patel PK, Nori P. Involving antimicrobial stewardship programs in COVID-19 response efforts: all hands on deck. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2020;41(6):744–5.

Policar M, Barber P, Malik Y. 383. Increased Need for Antimicrobial Stewardship during a COVID-19 Outbreak in New York City. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020;7(1):261.

DeWaele JJ, Derde L, Bassetti M. Antimicrobial stewardship in ICUs during the COVID-19 pandemic: back to the 90s? Intensive Care Med. 2021;47:104-6.

Getahun H, Smith I, Trivedi K, Paulin S, Balkhy HH. Tackling antimicrobial resistance in the covid-19 pandemic. Bull World Health Organizat. 2020;98:442.

Pulia MS, Wolf I, Schulz LT, Pop-Vicas A, Schwei RJ, Lindenauer PK. COVID-19: an emerging threat to antibiotic stewardship in the emergency department. West J Emerg Med. 2020;21(5):1283-6.