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Access to medication through pharmacies

ElmiMedic Rhoda Elmi

Photo: Agnes Nygren

Elmi Medic aim to improve public health by securing access to qualitative medication.

Rhoda Elmi has her roots in Somaliland and has built a life in Sweden. She’s a pharmacist by profession and has been a manager at a pharmacy in Gothenburg, where her family still resides. Since June 2018 she has been living in Hargeisa.

"In Sweden everything is so optimized. That is not the case of Somaliland but there is a great potential and space for growth", she states.

With the necessary skills and a drive to be part of the rebuilding of Somali society she investigated the possibilities of opening a pharmacy. She is of the strong opinion that in order to create a sustainable society health is a prerequisite.

Why shouldn’t Somalis have the same access to quality medicine?

"I realized that in Somaliland people only had access to medication not approved by EU standards and I thought to myself ‘Why shouldn’t Somalis have the same access to quality medicine?’, she asks rhetorically."

Her first pharmacy opened doors at the beginning of the year and she is well on her way to open yet another one in the city. So far she has seven employees, four of them female.

Until I get up and running the grant from SSBP has helped me pay salaries of my employees.

The shelves are busting with brands known to Swedes, everything from medication, shampoo, nutritional supplements, sanitary pads to hard bread. The latter, hard bread Lexands knäckebröd, she admits is hardly a top seller, but is rather imported for her own indulgement.   

"I import everything from Sweden. It’s what I know as a pharmacist. I want to be sure of the content that I recommend to my customers, Rhoda explains."

As a certified pharmacist she is free to import and distribute prescription drugs.

"People are really appreciating the stock I have. Swedish medication is becoming famous here, Rhoda says with a laugh."

Juggling a family in Sweden and an emerging business in Somaliland comes at a price but Rhoda knows where she must be, at least for now.

"For one I need to train my staff to the medication they sell. Secondly it takes some time to build up routines and get a team that can work without management present. As for now, I’m staying put in Somaliland."

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