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Pharmacists do more than supplying drugs

Health & Science
 Pharmacists are the most accessible and trusted healthcare professionals. [Istockphoto]

This year’s World Pharmacists’ Day was a time to celebrate the critical role played by pharmacists in healthcare delivery.  

This year’s theme, “Pharmacy United in Action for a Healthier World”, emphasised the pharmacists’ goal of exemplifying leadership, community, ownership and solidarity within the healthcare industry.

Most of us understand that pharmacists are in charge of the supply chain of health products. However, the role of pharmacists is much more significant in the healthcare delivery system than we probably realise.

Over the past four decades, the role of the pharmacist has evolved from an individual who was primarily responsible for safely and accurately dispensing medicines to a patient, to an individual who works side-by-side with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in sophisticated, highly specialised healthcare practice settings to assure appropriate medication therapy management.

The focus of the profession of pharmacy has shifted from technical, product-oriented, functions to patient-centered care, desired patient outcomes, medicines information and medication use review. This shift is generally referred to as Pharmaceutical Care.

In addition to dispensing medications and ensuring patient safety, today’s pharmacists are playing a larger role as an integral part of the healthcare team across the entire continuum of patient care and treatment.  

Pharmacists are the most accessible and trusted healthcare professionals. This accessibility allows them to perform a wide array of patient care activities, including counselling, medication management, and preventive care. Beyond the care provided to individual patients, pharmacists have expanded their reach to design and implement interventions that promote and protect the public health of communities.

Indeed, significant advancements have been made in Kenya in delivering efficient and modern pharmacy services and in expanding the range of services offered by pharmacists in the care and treatment of patients.

The commitment of the pharmacy profession to patient care, and the hard work and determination to sustain the supply of health commodities and key pharmaceutical care services throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, have been a source of immense pride.

Some interventions by pharmacists include health education and awareness creation; access to health products and technologies; pharmaceutical care; health programmes management; safety monitoring and quality assurance of medicines.

Pharmacists also play a key role in the prevention and management of both communicable and non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, mental health HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases.

Historically, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board as a regulator of pharmacy practice has supported the pharmacists' and pharmaceutical technologists’ role in public health. To achieve its mission to protect and promote the health of the public, the board has increased access to pharmacy services at the primary healthcare level by enhancing the participation of pharmaceutical personnel at the primary healthcare facilities.

 Dr F. M. Siyoi is CEO, Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

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