World news wrapup: 22 October 2020

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France running out of flu jabs; “Deliveroo-style” pharmacy service smashes crowdfunding target; Māori pharmacist honoured

France: Only a week into the annual campaign to encourage the French to be vaccinated against flu, nearly a third of pharmacies have run out of the vaccine – and anti-vaccination campaigners have reportedly gone quiet.

rfi reports that more than 5 million doses of the jab have been delivered to France’s 21,500 pharmacies since the campaign began last Tuesday.

“To be precise, 5.1 million French people have received the vaccine,” said Philippe Besset, president of pharmacists’ union FSPF.

“Usually, it takes a month for an equivalent number of doses to go.” 

The first day alone saw 2.2 million doses administered, and 1.5 million the next day.

“In just four days we sold what we usually sell in a typical three-month campaign,” said pharmacist and MP Agnès Firmin Le Bodo.

Pharmacists report that those who are at greatest risk of a bad outcome from flu – those aged over 65, with chronic health conditions, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and health workers – are driving the uptake.

“With Covid-19, the anti-vaxxers have become silent,” M Besset said. “If at the end of the campaign we have vaccinated 13 million people, it will mark a success.”


UK: An online pharmacy startup which has marketed itself as a “Deliveroo-style” service has attained a crowdfunding target of £1.65 million (AUD$3.02 million) – in a day.

Chemist + Druggist reports that Phlo, which launched in London between October and November 2019, is now hoping to expand into other major UK markets.

CEO and founder Nadeem Sarwar said that after launching the campaign to raise £1.65 million on October 12, by October 16 funding had risen to £1.76 million.

As well as moving into other major cities, Phlo is hoping to provide a 24-hour service in the near future, expanding on the current 8am to 10pm service.

“We created a system that is as easy as Deliveroo to use,” he said.

The service currently works with Phlo pharmacies, and Mr Sarwar is considering whether the technology, which allows users to see in real time whether a medicine is in stock and select a delivery time, could be rolled out to other pharmacies.


New Zealand: Māori pharmacist Joanna Hikaka (Ngāruahine) has been announced as the winner of the Pharmacist of the Year Award 2019. Māori pharmacists represent just 2% of the pharmacist workforce.

The judging panel was impressed by Ms Hikaka’s level of commitment to clinical pharmacy by promoting the need for, and ability of, pharmacists to other health professions.

The panel especially noted her achievement of being the first pharmacist to be awarded the Health Research Council Clinical Research Training Fellow position.

Her colleagues also noted her “unfaltering commitment and dedication to the advancement of Māori health and Māori pharmacists’ roles.”

Ms Hikaka has consistently worked to support young Maori pharmacists and was President of Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā (Māori Pharmacists Association) from 2017-2019.

Ms Hikaka, is currently completing her PhD at the University of Auckland focussing on equitable access to medicines and pharmacist services for older Māori. While she does this she is on leave from Waitematā District Health Board (DHB), where she works as an experienced clinical pharmacist specialising in older adult health in primary and secondary care.

She strongly advocates for clinical pharmacy practice in Aotearoa, promoting the need for, and ability of, pharmacists to provide clinically and culturally safe services.

Thanking the panel, she said that, “For me it means that there is a space for Māori to see themselves succeeding within the pharmacy profession.”


Sub-Saharan Africa: The most pressing healthcare, health workforce and pharmaceutical education needs in sub-Saharan Africa are described in a new report published by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), alongside recommendations towards achieving universal health coverage. 

The new report, “FIP pharmacy education in sub-Saharan Africa”, notes that although Africa has 17% of the world’s population, only 3% of the global health workforce is available to meet its health needs, resulting in the continent being burdened with 25% of the world’s disease.

One-third of the African population does not have access to quality medicines and pharmaceutical services, with one major contributing factor being the critical shortage of pharmacists.

Improvement in the quality of education and training is one of the key elements for the sustainable development of the pharmaceutical workforce to improve health and well-being, with the ultimate aim of achieving universal health coverage, according to FIP-UNESCO UNITWIN director Professor Ralph Altiere.

The report sets out the following recommended actions:

•    Build capacity of the pharmaceutical workforce;
•    Meet societal and healthcare needs of the region;
•    Address inequities in pharmacy education;
•    Address academic pharmacy workforce migration and shortfall issues;
•    Implement needs-based pharmacy education;
•    Establish institutional partnerships across the region;
•    Invest in pharmacy education and workforce; and
•    Establish an Africa-wide association for schools of pharmacy.

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