The first global guidelines that support continued access to medicines and pharmacy expertise during natural disasters, such as floods, heat waves and earthquakes, have bee released by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).
The document, “Responding to disasters: Guidelines for pharmacy”, has been produced by FIP’s Pharmacy Emergency Management Working Group following extensive consultation.
“The working group was set up in response to an increase in pharmacists around the world requesting help during emergency situations,” says Dr Régis Vaillancourt, Co-chair of the working group.
“Making these guidelines available to all is one of the ways in which FIP is helping pharmacists to continue to provide safe and effective care, even when bad things happen.
“Natural disasters have been growing in number as a result of climate change,”
The document describes actions under each of the four phases of an emergency — prevention/risk mitigation, preparation/readiness, response and recovery.
These actions are listed under different target groups, which comprise government, pharmacy organisations, manufacturers and distributors in terms of national implementation, and hospital and community pharmacy in terms of regional or local action.
For example, the document calls on national governing bodies to consider providing authorisation, under emergency, for expansion of pharmacists’ scopes of practice. It also raises the issue of pharmacies keeping patient records protected.
“This document it is not intended to answer all the questions but to raise awareness of what pre-planning to consider within the context of the pharmacist’s role,” says working group Co-chair Ms Jane Dawson.
In addition, the document contains practical tips and information on preparing the pharmacy in case of specific disaster types, and includes a list of medicines to stock for emergency situations.
Image: Flooding in Queensland. Courtesy Andrew Greenwood.