A campaign that led to a long-term pharmacy service screening people for colorectal cancer was today declared the winner of this year’s International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Health Promotion Campaign Award. The award was announced during the 77th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science taking place in Seoul, Republic of Korea. PharmaSuisse, the Swiss pharmacy association responsible for the “No to colorectal cancer” campaign, shared the award with the Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) for a campaign on safe drug use. FIP’s other professional association award, for best Pharmacy Practice Improvement Programme, went to the Royal Dutch Pharmacists Association (KNMP) for its campaign “The first time”, which raised awareness about the value of the counselling provided by community pharmacists to patients prescribed a new medicine.
The Swiss campaign saw almost half of the country’s pharmacists signing up to offer the screening service in collaboration with doctors, screening specifically people between 50 and 75 years of age who had not had a colonoscopy within the past 10 years. The campaign was supported by widespread media coverage and a website accessible to the public with a dedicated section for pharmacists. Based on a questionnaire, pharmacists evaluated a person’s risk factors for colorectal cancer, which provided the criteria for direct referral to a doctor or for a stool test. Those who took a stool test received their results from the pharmacist. Those with positive results were referred and those with negative results were given lifestyle advice and registered for another screening in two years’ time. As a result of the six-week campaign, it is estimated that 58 cases of cancer and 368 cases of advanced adenoma were detected. Moreover, more than 600 pharmacies implemented the service on a daily basis and are ready to provide the second screening. PharmaSuisse addressed the cost-efficiency of this service as part of its work, showing that the costs of treatments saved completely compensated the cost of screening. “It is a great honour for pharmaSuisse to be the recipient of this award. It is a strong recognition of our huge investment to implement new services in pharmacy. It is important that pharmacists are recognised as key partners also in the topic of prevention,” said Ms Martine Ruggli, head of department, interprofessional collaboration, pharmaSuisse.
The Korean campaign had the aim of promoting public health through providing education on the responsible use of medicines and was established in response to rising medicines-related problems in the country. As part of the campaign, pharmacists have been trained to become educators, targeting a wide range of people, including socially vulnerable groups, such as those with low incomes, in a number of different surroundings, including children’s fairs and rural areas, and through varied channels, for example, a guidebook, a website and a competition. Different areas of drug safety were addressed, including illegal drugs and the responsible use of medicines, and more than a million people have been reached. “The campaign has made a great contribution to the establishment of the public-centred pharmacist roles. The ultimate goal is to expand the pharmacist’s role so that people can recognise the pharmacist as an advocate of health promotion,” said Ms Lee Ae Hyung, director of appropriate drug use, Korean Pharmaceutical Association.
The Dutch campaign, conducted by the KNMP at the request of the Dutch government, not only succeeded in promoting a service provided by pharmacists but also helped to create acceptance that pharmacists should be paid for this service. Through different outreach channels, including a campaign newspaper, posters and billboards, radio spots and social media content, the campaign reached a broad audience and helped ease public anger over the practice and costs of first-time dispensing counselling. “The work we pharmacists do remains largely invisible to the eyes of patients, policy makers and even other health care professionals,” said Mr Gerben Klein Nulent, chairman of the Royal Dutch Pharmacists Association. “It is imperative that we continue to show the positive impact pharmacists have in the health care system.”