In conjunction with this year’s World Pharmacists Day on 25th September, Chief Pharmacist Lim En Ni would like to implore Government recognition and support to empower community pharmacists in the provision of primary healthcare in the country.
For the longest time, the role of a pharmacist has been seen by many, even amongst those in the profession, as retailer of supplements and other healthcare products. However, thanks and no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general public have come to recognise the values community pharmacists bring:
- Medication Safety – Very often, patients with multiple non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were prescribed with medications by different doctors, they might not be aware of possible medical contradictions. They brought these medications to community pharmacists like me, and we helped them review and explain the dosage and possible side effects of each medicine. Most importantly, pharmacists ensure the safety of patients from medication errors.
- Accessibility – Pharmacies are usually open for long hours and pharmacists offer informal, appointment-free consultation. At the height of the pandemic when clinics and hospitals required COVID-19 screening prior to consultation with doctors and patients avoided going to high-risk places as such, community pharmacists filled the gap by offering advice on COVID-19 and other health related matters including basic health screening and re-filling much needed chronic prescriptions through collaboration with telemedicine providers.
- Solution-based Services – In recent years, many product-based retail pharmacists have transited to community pharmacists with solution-based services, such as wound care, smoking cessation service as well as diabetic-care.
According to En Ni, community pharmacists have and will influence national health care progression in many positive ways. It is high time for the Government to endorse community pharmacists as an integral part of community health and wellness by allocating funding for programmes in support of the Government’s efforts in creating a smoke-free generation, battling against NCDs and providing preventive care for the ageing population.
The inclusion of community pharmacists in the Government’s outreach plan will benefit the country as a whole as it will ultimately reduce medical costs, improve population health, increase the quality of healthcare in Malaysia and contribute to the country’s GDP.
This year, The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) announced the theme of World Pharmacist Day 2022 as “Pharmacy United in Action for a Healthier World”. This theme invites comrades from all sectors of the pharmacy profession to take part in the campaign. Regardless of culture or point of view, the core duty of every pharmacist remains — to safeguard medication safety for everyone.
En Ni would like to end this with words of encouragement and motivation to fellow community pharmacists in Malaysia, who serve patients and communities with genuine passion and perseverance. Together, we strive with an open mind-set for ideas and practices that will help making Malaysia a healthier and more vibrant nation.