World Pharmacists Day 2018
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Posted by: Paul Owusu Donkor
PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GHANA (PSGH) ON WORLD PHARMACISTS DAY 2018
25th September is World Pharmacists Day. Since 2010, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and its 140 national associations like PSGH with over 4 million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists celebrate 25th September, as World Pharmacists Day. The day is meant to highlight the role of pharmacists in ensuring patient safety through responsible supply and use of medicines. Pharmacists are called on to take responsibility for their actions in the course of patient care. The celebration raises awareness in the general public about this responsibility on pharmacists and what they should expect of their pharmacists.
The theme for the 2018 World Pharmacists Day is “Pharmacists: Your medicines experts”. The theme puts a focus on the extensive expertise that pharmacists have and put to use every day to ensure better patient health outcomes. This expertise is applied through science and research, through educating the next generation, and through transforming patient needs into services.
From product focus to patient-centered care
As an integral part of the training of pharmacists, the chemistry, pharmacokinetics as well as all other properties of drug molecules are studied and factored in the type of formulation that will best serve the needs of a patient to derive the desired outcome.
Care and detailed attention to specification are key before medicines are formulated and produced for the use of the patient. During supply and dispensing of medicines, care is also taken to ensure that all the requirements needed for effective use of the medicines are provided by the pharmacist. All these may be done to ensure that a patient derives the intended benefit from medicines taken. However, should there be a lack of understanding on how the medicine is to be used, then the intended benefit or outcome of the use of medication cannot be achieved. This is why pharmacy practice over the years has moved from being a product-based practice to a patient-centered profession. This is to ensure that patients get the intended benefit from their medications.
Global Medicines (Mis)Use
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, more than 50% of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed, or sold inappropriately, while 50% of patients fail to take them correctly.1 From the above information, it can be concluded that more pharmacists are needed for effective use of medicines. From ensuring that medicines are prescribed appropriately to patients taking medicines correctly, the expertise of the pharmacist is required.
The role of pharmacists in patient adherence and compliance to prescribed medications cannot be overemphasized. A comprehensive pharmacy program composed of patient education and custom blister-packed medications was associated with substantial and sustained improvements in medication adherence among elderly patients receiving complex medication regimens.2
Medication error is a significant source of morbidity and mortality among patients. Though data about the Ghana situation are not readily available they may reflect the result of many studies elsewhere including a systematic review of the economic impact of medication errors by Wash et al (2017). This study provided clinical and cost-effectiveness evidence for the implementation of quality-of-care interventions. The mean cost per medication error was from $3.02 to $130,619.24.3
Thus, reduction of error-related cost is a key potential benefit to the NHIS by the use of interventions addressing medication error. Each year in the U.S., serious preventable medication errors occur in 3.8 million inpatient admissions and 3.3 million outpatient visits.4,5 The Institute of Medicine, in its report To Err Is Human, estimated that 7,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are due to preventable medication errors.6
Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI) states that targeting the $21 billion spent annually on preventable medication errors requires building on proven practices and implementing policy actions that target the root causes of the problem. The six solutions identified by NEHI include:
1. Improvement of Coordination-of-Care
2. Facilitation of Patient Engagement
3. Enhancement of Technological Interventions
4. Increment in Payment of Incentives
5. Update of Accreditation/Certification of Facilities and Professionals
6. Pharmacist Involvement and Follow-ups
It has been proven that patients who received pharmacist follow-up calls were 88 percent less likely to have a preventable medication error resulting in an emergency or hospitalization.7
Including a pharmacist on routine medical rounds led to a 78% reduction in medication errors.8 Adding a pharmacist to a physician rounds team in an intensive care unit led to annual savings of $270,000.9
Thus, the role of the pharmacist not only as a member of the healthcare team but as an expert in medicines should and must be taken seriously if we are to decrease and reverse morbidity and mortality from medication errors.
Expanding Roles of Pharmacists
Globally, the roles of pharmacists continue to expand beyond the traditional role of being makers, preparers, dispensers and custodians of medicines. The roles of pharmacists have evolved into being prescribers in group practice with General Medical Practitioners to providing vaccination and immunization services in community pharmacies in developed countries.
Overseeing and implementing the responsible use of medicines will lead to desired outcomes and pharmacists by their training, skills and competencies are well placed to help in transforming patient outcomes.
The West African Health Organization (WAHO) is the regional agency charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the health of people in the sub-region through the initiation and harmonization of the policies of member states, pooling of resources, and cooperation with one another and with others for a collective and strategic combat against the health problems of the sub-region.
With the shift in pharmacy practice from being a product-centered practice to a patient-focused practice, WAHO has recommended that undergraduate pharmacy education should be restructured to meet the demands of this new reality. WAHO has developed a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum which member states should adapt and use in the training of pharmacy students in all pharmacy schools in West Africa.
Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the KNUST, being the pioneer school of pharmacy, took up the challenge in 2012 and admitted the first batch of PharmD students to pursue a 6-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree. This led to the graduation of the first batch of PharmD students in July 2018. They have been inducted and are currently undertaking their housemanship in various health facilities in the country.
It is the expectation of the PSGH that this new breed of pharmacists with in-depth knowledge and skills to help in transforming patient outcomes will be appropriately placed and motivated to derive the desired benefit for patients.
In 2011, Ghana through an act of parliament (Act 833), established the Ghana College of Pharmacists to, among other things, promote specialist training in pharmacy and promote pharmaceutical research.10
The Ghana College of Pharmacists was thus set up to offer post-qualification specialization for pharmacists in various disciplines. The first batch of specialist pharmacists to be graduated by the College will be taking their final examinations in October. The PSGH expects the Ministry of Health and related agencies to give the graduates the needed recognition and incentives to motivate them to help in the delivery of effective pharmaceutical care. The College as an agency of the Ministry of Health needs to be supported and nurtured to be able to deliver on its mandate for effective delivery of specialized pharmaceutical care.
On the occasion of the celebration of the 2018 World Pharmacists Day, I urge all pharmacists to be reminded of our place and importance in healthcare delivery and stand up to be counted.
I ask of every pharmacist to put the rights, health and well-being of the patient above all else. As pharmacists, we are the experts in medicines and it is important that members of the healthcare team and our patients see this in our daily call to duty.
God bless all pharmacists.
God bless the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana.
God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great, strong and healthy.
Pharm. Benjamin K. Botwe,
Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH)
1. The Rational Use of Drugs. Report of the Conference of Experts. Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO), 1985.
2. Leape, L.L., Cullen, D.J., Clapp, M.D., et al. (1999). Pharmacist participation on physician rounds and adverse drug events in the intensive care unit. JAMA, 282(3), 267-270.
3. NEHI (Network for Excellence in Health Innovation), Bend the Curve- Preventing Medication Errors: A $21 Billion Opportunity. : www.nehi.net/bendthecurve. Last accessed in September, 2018.
4. Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and NEHI. (2008). Saving Lives, Saving Money: The Imperative for CPOE in Massachusetts. Retrieved from www.nehi.net/ publications/8/saving_lives_saving_money_the_imperative_for_computerized_physician_order_entry_in_massachusetts_hospitals. Last accessed in September, 2018.
5. Center of Information Technology Leadership. (2007). The Value of Computerized Provider Order Entry in Ambulatory Settings. Retrieved from http://www.partners.org/cird/pdfs/ CITL_ACPOE_Full.pdf. Last accessed in September, 2018.
6. Institute of Medicine. (1999). To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
7. Schnipper, J.L., Kirwin, J.L., Cotugno, M.C., et al. (2006). Role of pharmacist counseling in preventing adverse drug events after hospitalization. Arch Intern Med, 166(5), 565-571.
8. Kucukarslan, S.N., Peters, M., Mlynarek, M., et al. (2003). Pharmacists on rounding teams reduce preventable adverse drug events in hospital general medicine units. Arch Intern Med, 163(17), 2014-2018.
9. Jeannie K. Lee; Karen A. Grace, PharmD; Allen J. Taylor,(2006) Effect of a Pharmacy Care Program on Medication Adherence and Persistence, Blood Pressure, and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol:A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA, 296(21), 2563-2571
10. Specialist Health Training and Plant Medicine Research Act, 2011 (ACT 833): Part Four- Ghana College of Pharmacists.