BLESS is no BLESSING : MPS Calls for Improvement in Pharmacist Annual Retention Certificate Renewal Application

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30 December 2016 Puchong, Selangor A recent survey by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society shows that 77.6% of the respondents encountered problems using the Business Licensing Electronic Support System (BLESS) while 65.3% of the respondents have yet to receive their Annual Retention Certificate (ARC).

Launched on 5 September 2008, BLESS was one of the initiatives by PEMUDAH together with the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) of the Prime Minister’s Department to develop an internet-based system for the application of business licences. In moving towards an on-line system, the aim was to increase speed, transparency and predictability in the application and approval of licences. The system will show the time taken by the various departments to process the applications, thus ensuring that the Government Department and agencies adhere to their client’s charter.

Pharmacists however are disappointed with the system as it is not user friendly and the problems encountered ranged from failure to register as the system was always down or the server was overloaded, failure to submit the registration, failure to submit payment and failure to contact the helpline/helpdesk.

Pharmacists are scrambling to submit their ARC applications as the deadline is 31 December 2016. Submissions received after this date will be imposed a fine of RM100.

Pharmacists that were interviewed shared their frustration using BLESS; Mr Wong Sie Sing, a senior pharmacist, hopes that the current My.Pharma-C system which is being used to issue licenses at state level to pharmacist will be upgraded and the Lembaga Farmasi Malaysia and Bahagian Perkhidmatan Farmasi Malaysia will control the ARC application process via this system.

“The most frustrating aspect was that despite submitting my payment, the BLESS system showed my payment as still pending. I will have to claim for a refund as I have to resubmit my application with a new payment as there is no option to save and edit”, lamented another senior pharmacist En Mujahid Ismail.

“Last year I had to pay twice after my 1st attempt was not captured and logged out automatically. This year after a few failures to reach the payment step, I was finally able to pay successfully, however it has been 2 months and I have yet to receive my ARC” said En Abdul Aziz Fazal, another pharmacist who has been struggling with the BLESS system.

Speaking to reporters, MPS President, Tn Haji Amrahi Buang clarified that this has been an ongoing problem since the inception of the system by LFM in 2014.. He said MPS has received numerous complaints from its members since the middle of the year and have written to the DG and LFM to highlight their plight.

“LFM should consider incorporating the ARC application as a module under the My.Pharm-C system or engage with a vendor that has a reliable track record. BLESS is overloaded due to the high volume of users that are not only pharmacists”, he said.

Tn. Hj Amrahi urges LFM to set up a proper complaint channel so that pharmacist can submit proof of submission to ensure fines are not imposed. LFM should also provide an extension until the issues are completely resolved.

The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society Brief

The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) is the national association for pharmacists formed in 1967 to promote and maintain the honor and interests of the profession of pharmacy in the country.  The Society plays an important role to further the development of pharmacy and pharmaceutical education and to foster intra-professional relationship among members.  It strives to improve the Science of Pharmacy for the general welfare of the public by fostering the publication of scientific and professional information relating to the practice of pharmacy and aid in the development and stimulation of discovery, invention and research.

The Society also represents the interests of its members and also the general public by having representatives at the Pharmacy Board and the Poisons Board of the Ministry of Health, and other consumer-related interest groups.  The Society also confers Honorary membership, Fellowship and Awards to deserving pharmacists.  For students, the MPS presents the annual MPS Gold Medallist Award to deserving graduating students from local pharmacy institutions.

Membership is opened to all registered pharmacists in Malaysia.

There is also a category for student membership.  Through this channel students can focus their activities through various interest groups (NoGAPS,  IPSF, Student Chapter). Special consideration is also given to students to attend MPS-organised activities either through complimentary invitation, or at special student rates.

The Society is actively engaging pharmacists in Continuing Professional Development activities.  Throughout the year courses and seminars are being organized to facilitate pharmacists participation.  It is also pursuing accreditation of pharmacies for standardization of practice.