The International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP has called on governments across the globe to authorise and incorporate the network of pharmacies in their countries as testing centres, following the adoption of evidence-based protocols for the usability of rapid point-of-care tests for COVID-19 in appropriate individuals in the community setting.
The apex Pharmacy institution in the world also urged leadership of nations to acknowledge the roles being played by pharmacists in the current global pandemic, as they are exposed to the risks of the lethal virus without adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) thus called for the provision of PPEs for all pharmacists, whether in the hospital or community.
Mr Dominique Jordan, FIP president in a recent statement made available to Pharmanewsonline charged world leaders on recognition of pharmacists in the global war against the novel Coronavirus saying: “Authorising and harnessing the network of pharmacies to contribute to mass testing across populations, following the adoption of evidence-based protocols for the usability of rapid point-of-care tests for COVID-19 in appropriate individuals in the community setting, is required.
He continued: “The valuable service that pharmacists and their teams provide to communities, and their important contribution to easing the huge strain being placed on health systems during the current coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is now clearer than ever. We know that these colleagues are going to great lengths and subjecting themselves to risks in order to ensure continuity of care, particularly to the vulnerable, and to maintain a robust and efficient medicines and medical product supply chain as well as providing much needed advice and services,” Jordan asserted.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has also thrown its weight behind the FIP’s position, saying recognition of pharmacists as full members of the healthcare team combating COVID-19 is paramount, noting that there should be no discrimination of any sorts, as it is being practiced in Lagos State, although the Society is in discussion with the leadership of the team, especially at the Infectious Disease Centre (IDH) Yaba.
The PSN President, Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa in an exclusive chat with Pharmanewsonline, urged governments at all levels to make PPEs available to all pharmacists to enable them discharge their duties without the fear of contracting the virus.
“While some pharmacists are provided, some are not. We had earlier on drawn attention to this. Therefore we agree fully with the FIP that pharmacists in the hospitals and even those in the community who are the first point of contact with most sick persons should be provided with PPEs
Speaking on the welfare of pharmacists in the country, Ohuabunwa frown at the discrimination against pharmacists in some states and hospitals, saying it is so appalling. “Yes some pharmacists are included in the new increment in hazard allowance, but overall there is so much disheartening discrimination. In Lagos, some hospital pharmacists are excluded from the allowances for spurious reasons, but we learnt the leadership of the IDH team trying to resolve the issue. In the FCT, pharmacists are lumped together with cleaners, while their other professional groups are paid much higher allowances.
“For us this is patently wrong, Ohuabunwa continued, “It is important to state that all the COVID-19 patients are taking one medicine or another. And in all cases these medicines are dispensed by pharmacists and given to the patients directly or indirectly and so remain critically exposed either way. Our hope is that the Lagos State Government will correct this anomaly so that the team morale can be sustained in the best interest of the patient”, he remarked.
The FIP further pressed home some points on the welfare of pharmacists, stating that financial aid should be provided to pharmacies in the event of temporary closure for health reasons; arrangement of home delivery of medicines and pharmaceutical services to patients who must stay at home should be funded by governments; and medicines at risk of shortage should be identified and mitigation plans put in place.