Pharmacists have an ethical duty to accept responsibility, as health care professionals, for providing aid to others in disaster situations, and this means having plans in place to respond appropriately in the event of a natural or man-made disaster and to limit its impact, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) says in a new Statement of Policy released to the press.
“There has been an increasingly large number of natural disasters over the past 10 years. Just last month we’ve had a large typhoon in Hong Kong, a monsoon in Bangladesh, and Hurricane Harvey in the US, followed by devastating floods and many lives lost. With global warming, such events are predicted not only to become more frequent but to increase in severity, and we pharmacists need to be prepared. It’s no good waiting until something happens to sort out how you’re going to manage. Our patients will need us to provide their medicines and give advice in what will be a very stressful situation,” said Mrs Jane Dawson, secretary of FIP’s Military and Emergency Pharmacy Section.
The new statement, “Role of the pharmacist in disaster management”, also recommends that all pharmacists’ workplaces have a risk assessment and management plan so that the effect on pharmacy services delivery during a disaster is minimised. It follows the release, in July 2016, of FIP’s international guidelines — “Responding to disasters: Guidelines for pharmacy” — that detail actions for different stakeholders, including government and hospital and community pharmacy, to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from a natural disaster.
“Governments need to consider the law and standards — do they have emergency provisions — pharmacy organisations should be advocates for and support members in emergency planning, the supply chains and distributors need to plan how to deliver when disaster strikes and, most importantly, all pharmacists need to recognise that they should prepare in advance so they can cope in an emergency situation,” Mrs Dawson said.
She added: “FIP’s responding to disaster guidelines were developed based on the experiences of pharmacists who have provided services during previous emergencies. In this new statement, FIP makes clear that our profession must be prepared and can use FIP’s guidelines to help them to do so.”