Health programs encouraging patients to visit pharmacies, rather than physicians, as their first port of call for minor ailments have been proven to reduce the burden on physicians in primary care.
This was the message delivered by International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Policy Adviser and Project manager Zuzana Kusynova in a major presentation to the executive board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva this week.
Representing more than four million pharmacists worldwide, FIP supports and encourages improvements in healthcare, particularly in the area of pharmacy.
“Pharmacists are easily accessible and approachable health professionals, and they are an essential part of the provision of integrated, people-centred services in primary healthcare, Ms Kusynova said in her statement, reiterating the FIP message from 2018.
“The roles of pharmacists range from communicators and quality medicine suppliers to supervisors, collaborators and health promoters, and these roles are continually expanding.
“In many countries, pharmacists screen for diseases and encourage disease prevention through lifestyle advice and administering vaccines, improve medicines adherence, monitor chronic conditions and refer patients to other healthcare professionals if needed.”
Ms Kusynova said that in many places the community pharmacy was the only primary healthcare unit, and therefore the only place where advice could be obtained from a healthcare professional.
“Pharmacists are recognised as a trustworthy source of information and advice,” she said.
In concluding, Ms Kusynova told the WHO executive board: “With the changing needs of health systems and the public, the pharmacy profession needs to continue to evolve with the support of technology, education and, importantly, your support in legislation.”
Other FIP session elements covered medicines access and global action on patient safety. More details are available at www.fip.org.