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Australian pharmacists have the knowledge to deliver travel health advice, research shows, justifying calls for pharmacy supply of vaccines and other health medicines   

A study, conducted by researchers from James Cook University has assessed the travel health knowledge of Australian pharmacists and found the sector offers “potential to improve both access and outcomes for travellers”. 

A surveys assessing pharmacists’ knowledge of travel health was distributed through the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and community pharmacies, and completed by 208 respondents.

Overall, the travel health knowledge of participants was found to be good. 

The majority were aware of the common causes of morbidity and mortality in travel
health, and of the health risks associated with some common destinations for Australian travellers.

However, they appeared to be slightly less knowledgeable about the prevalence of malaria, the
global distribution of yellow fever, and some other travel-related infectious diseases, the authors said.

Most participants also demonstrated an ability to give appropriate advice on the management of traveller’s diarhoea and the selection of appropriate items for inclusion in travel first aid kits.

“From an Australian public health perspective, the pharmacists in this study importantly
demonstrated an awareness of the vaccination requirements for common destinations for Australian
travellers and a capability to select appropriate malarial chemoprophylaxis for visitors to endemic
areas,” the authors said.

“They also demonstrated an ability to judiciously and appropriately recommend the use of
antibiotics in the management of traveller’s diarrhoea.

“This adds credence to the case to allow the supply of a wider range of vaccines, antimalarials, and a limited range of antibiotics for use in travel health from Australian pharmacies”.

The authors called for further research to validate the findings and ensure comparison with similar research in other countries.

“Findings could be used to develop training resources, accreditation tools, and to further develop the extended role of pharmacists,” they concluded.

The research was published online in the journal Pharmacy

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