Proud of our achievements
TODAY, AS an association, as we reflect upon our journey from the embryonic stage as The Jamaica Pharmacists’ Association with only 15 members, we are proud of the strides we have made from those budding stages. In 1944, what was known as The Jamaica Pharmacists’ Association became known as the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ). Today, we reflect not only how far we have come but how together we can work towards, ‘Advancing Sustainable Development Goals for a Healthier You’.
Our mission has always been to maintain the dignity of the profession by promoting high standards of conduct in all aspects of professional practice. To this end, through dedicated and competent leadership throughout the years, including the yeoman service of our outgoing executive, we have made great strides; having spearheaded the establishment of a School of Pharmacy at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, (now the University of Technology), which brought to an end the former apprenticeship system, giving greater legitimacy and credibility to the profession. This allowed us to be able to establish regional and international links, being admitted into the membership of similar organisations in Great Britain and other Commonwealth countries, the Caribbean and Latin America. We are also affiliated to the Professional Societies Association of Jamaica, the Diabetes Association of Jamaica and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.
We have been strident in our advocacy for pharmacists and negotiated through two political administrations to ensure that pharmacists had large representation on the Pharmacy Council. We continue to host continuing education seminars to help build the capacity of our members. The annual Pharmaceutical Conference, which began in 1990, has now become a focus point for pharmacists, as well as others in the industry. Of mention is the 8th Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association (CPA) conference held at the Renaissance Jamaica Grande Resort in August 2003, where the PSJ hosted 653 delegates from 44 countries.
Those are just a few of the many accomplishments we have achieved as an association and is testament to the benefits of working together. But while we are proud of these many accomplishments and are thankful for them, we must be careful not to slacken our grasp of what is yet to be apprehended. Our delight must be found in doing our part in crafting a sustainable development plan that will ensure the health of our society. And, we are confident that we will continue on this trajectory of success as evidenced by the strong relationship we’ve built, which was on display at our first-ever joint historic pharmaceutical conference of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists (CAP) and the PSJ held in July 2016. There are a number of agenda items to be achieved, including: Strengthening our relationship with the CAP with specific initiatives to be rolled out. Re-energising our association with the CPA.
Explore advanced partnership with international associations. We have to seek to continuously improve as an organisation. Therefore, in the next leg of our journey, the PSJ will seek to enhance communication with our most important stakeholders - our pharmacists and pharmaceutical students. It is extremely important that we do this as enhanced modalities of and effective communication augurs well for the building of strong relationships. Maintaining an open dialogue helps in fostering those desired relationships, sense of belonging and commitment by our members. They are our primary stakeholders. Their individual and collective interests are paramount to the PSJ. They are part of our mission. Therefore, our work continues to not only be to maintain the dignity of the profession but to advocate for the rights and needs of our members.
We are stronger together. We are stronger in numbers. We are stronger when we join our hands and hearts for the betterment of the PSJ. Our voice has more power when we come together for the cause of advocacy. Those who are not members, our encouragement to you is to become a member. We are a place for you to belong. Partner with us and help us to represent you better. Let us build authentic relationships amongst ourselves and share experiences so that we can learn from each other and become acquainted with the different realities in which we serve. There is much to be gained, and nothing to lose, in joining the association.
There will be legislative changes (amendments to the Pharmacy Act) to establish a new framework in keeping with developments the world over – this will support new and emerging roles for members of the health team. We are working closely with the local Ministry of Health and, by extension, the Pharmacy Council of Jamaica, along with other local stakeholder organisations in the health sector. This will open the doors to specialised training to meet definite needs and expanded roles, including medication therapy management. Benefits include: monitoring services provided by pharmacists to help consumers get the best results from medications through; enhancing consumer understanding of medication therapy; increasing patient adherence to medications; controlling costs; and preventing drug complications and interactions.
There will also be the fashioning of a blueprint for the preface of clinical roles of health-systems pharmacists. This will undoubtedly enhance the application of professional skills to increase patients’ compliance in medication regimen; assist in preventing and reducing possible medication error; improve chronic disease state management; lower cost to the community; promote positive health, social and economic outcomes.
Additionally, there will be partnership to establish pharmacist as immunisers. Pharmacists are seen as among the most accessible health-care professionals. In most instances, there are no appointment requirements or consultation fees applicable to the patient. As pharmacists, we are a credible repository of health and drug
therapy information. We live in a society that still holds steadfastly to our ancestral therapy retentions. Some pharmacists are knowledgeable to furnish patients with specific information on those traditional herbal remedies, complementary medicines and even on the properties, effectiveness and appropriate use of cosmetic products. Our pharmacists are highly trained to promote high standards of conduct in all aspects of professional practice and are recognised internationally for our competence, hence our regional and international partnerships and memberships.
The PSJ’s commitment is to ensure that its members are constantly developing their capacities and competence in their field, particularly through research and continuing education to tackle specific challenges. This, of course, will bring further credibility to, and solidify the integrity of the association and its members and offer greater delivery of quality care to our clients. We have to become more informed by the data and find solutions based on those data, so that we create a more sustainable sector. Knowledge is power and all the acquired knowledge is towards enhancing patient therapeutic needs and, ultimately, patient outcomes.
Ultimately, the real care of the patient lies in their hands and we must never fail to continue to encourage them to make those lifestyle changes which will mitigate the prevalence and progression of chronic lifestyle diseases. Those lifestyle changes will include eating healthier foods; consuming healthier beverages; doing sufficient daily physical activity/exercise (25-35 minutes per day); consuming adequate and required amounts of water per day; adequate sleep; and maintaining healthy housing strategies, including treatment of water, sanitation, vector control, hygiene and waste management.
The new executive anticipates serving its members and the wider Jamaica over the next two years and encourages all to continue to offer quality care and advocate for its patients. We must forge ahead, cognisant of the gains we have had but also poised to assume the challenges that lie ahead and the victories to be won. As an association, we are open to dialogue with all our members and welcome their feedback, concerns, questions and suggestions.
We wish all our members a great Pharmacy Week and invite all of you to join us in service as we, in turn, seek to serve you with passion and purpose.