The profession has marked World Pharmacists’ Day by highlighting how pharmacy can help manage health care challenges
Irish people make an estimated two million visits to community pharmacy every month, according to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland – and with a population of just over four and a half million, that makes pharmacists the most frequently accessed health professional.
Niall Byrne, Registrar of the PSI (Ireland’s pharmacy regulator), used the day to point out significant challenges being faced by the Irish community, including a rapidly ageing population and increasing demands on health services.
The number of people over 65 years is expected to grow by about 3% per year over the next 10-15 years with 40% of the population forecasted to have at least one chronic illness by 2020.
He cited PSI’s recent report, Future Pharmacy Practice in Ireland – meeting patient needs, which discussed the potential expanded role for pharmacists.
“People’s healthcare needs are increasing and becoming more complex,” he says.
“Medicines are the most common intervention in resolving people’s health issues so the potential risks to the safe and effective use of medicine are likely to increase.
“At the same time, national health policies continue to focus on resolving the public’s healthcare needs as close to their homes as possible. Pharmacists are uniquely placed to play a greater role that could assist in patient care in a safe and cost effective manner.”
The PSI report contained a number of key recommendations around the evolution of pharmacists’ role in health promotion and their greater involvement in managing chronic diseases in the community as well as within the hospital environment, as part of multi-disciplinary teams.
The report also predicts pharmacists working increasingly outside of pharmacies, providing medicines expertise in GP surgeries, nursing homes and in tandem with home care, as the delivery of healthcare services changes.
Around the world
Internationally, pharmacy groups got together to call for greater involvement in more aspects of health care, and to celebrate the expanded services they offer.
Pharmacists in New Zealand also highlighted that they can and should do more to support patients and other health services.
“The Government has recognised that pharmacists are an untapped resource given their five years of professional training and this is articulated in the Pharmacy Action Plan launched in by The Minister of Health in 2016,” Graeme Smith, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand, told Business Scoop.
“The Action Plan aligns with the New Zealand Health Strategy and aims to make greater use of the skills and training of the pharmacist as a member of an integrated health care team.”
Pharmacy Today reports that the pharmacy team at Auckland DHB set up an awareness-raising stand at Auckland City Hospital.
Pharmacists in Nigeria held a pharmacy profession awareness campaign at a school in Lokoja, talking to students about diseases including lassa fever, HIV and AIDS.
Pharmacists also took to the airwaves, speaking on radio Grace FM 95.5 about the role pharmacists play in the health system.
Pharmacy students at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Hashemite University, Jordan, celebrated by offering free medicines counselling for students and university employees.
In the US, pharmacists have a whole month to celebrate: as well as World Pharmacists Day on September 25, October is American Pharmacists Month.
The American Pharmacists’ Association is encouraging pharmacists to get involved with the theme, “Know your pharmacist, know your medicine” and to host a range of events including medication checkups and “OTC tours” of pharmacies.