Don’t shoot the messenger

The profession must engage in broader health care and social debates, writes AJP Editor Chris Brooker

While pharmacy as a profession strives to expand its standing and role in the primary care landscape, there are still many within it that adopt a kind of Little Pharmacy approach.

We often hear from people who try to dismiss any topic that isn’t directly about pharmacy profitability, remuneration and day-to-day operations.

While these are obviously going to be absolutely central to pharmacists’ concerns, this can’t be all the profession stands for. It must take a role within the broader health care landscape and engage in broader health care and social debates.

On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to express that AJP’s editorial team fully supports the PSA’s decision to coordinate a float in the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Under the banner ‘Pharmacists for equality’, the profession will now join its fellow health professionals in having a presence at the iconic event. 

Following publication of our initial story about the initiative in AJP Daily, there was some criticism, which led us to run a poll on the topic. This found a narrow majority (currently 51%) of readers were opposed the PSA position (which does not involve PSA providing financial support).

More of the no voting readers ticked ‘No, I don’t think pharmacy should be involved in this area’ rather than ‘definitely no’ – a result I interpret as meaning most support (or are not opposed to) the LGBT+ community per se, rather they have an issue with an overt PSA involvement.

Hearteningly, the largest percentage of readers (39%) for any one answer voted ‘Definitely 100% yes’.

A LGBT+ reader contacted us to express dismay at the result, and we understand that PSA also received comments critical of AJP for courting controversy.

We wish to reiterate that we at AJP support the PSA position, and would remind pharmacists that this is a public health issue, not just a moral issue.   

As one of our readers commented “this does assist the professional position of pharmacists on two fronts”:

1) It provides a clear message to pharmacists that their sexual orientation isn’t (or shouldn’t) be a barrier to their career;

2) It provides a clear message to individuals that as health professionals we are approachable with regards to health issues that are intrinsically associated with sexuality.

However, that does not invalidate our poll and stories, the high levels of readership and feedback for which indicate this is a topic which is controversial, but which needs to be explored, explained and debated.

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