How pharmacy can support women

Because of women’s caregiving role, they need pharmacist support, says a new report

The potential for pharmacists to support women in their often overlooked role as informal caregivers is the focus of a new report published by the International Pharmaceutical Federation.

The report has been developed by FIP’s Working Group on Women and the Responsible Use of Medicines.

Health systems rely heavily on unpaid and informal work that disproportionately falls to women, and because of the multifaceted role that these informal caregivers play, they need a range of support services to improve their caregiving skills, the working group concluded. 

As the most accessible healthcare professionals, pharmacists are in an ideal position to empower women in these roles, to communicate to women the need to be well informed about health and medicines, and to support health literacy, the report ― “Pharmacists supporting women and responsible use of medicines: Empowering informal caregivers” ― says. 

The report contains examples of how pharmacists in different countries are supporting women caregivers found through a survey conducted by the working group.

However, the findings also indicated that the number of initiatives especially targeting women are limited.

“Possibilities to contribute to women and responsible use of medicines is a relatively unexplored territory that pharmacists and their organisations are encouraged to look into,” says Ema Paulino, chair of the working group and FIP Professional Secretary. 

Women are often the ones who assume the health responsibilities for their households and families and who visit pharmacies, she says.

As the world’s population ages, the number of women performing this role looks set to increase.

“Pharmacists can be more active in supporting these women not only to ensure the responsible use of medicines for their families but also in making sure that they look after their own health needs ― we know that caregiving can have negative effects on health and that women caregivers can neglect their own health,” Ms Paulino says. 

The report also summarises the global policies related to women and health, and gives an overview of health risks for women.

“Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is one of the United Nations’17 Sustainable Development Goals. The aim of this report is to enable pharmacists to bring about positive change in this area. It can be used as a basis for developing targeted interventions,” Ms Paulino says.

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