Phar­ma­cists – an un­der­rated and of­ten over­looked pro­fes­sion

The Borneo Post - - HOME -

KUALA LUMPUR: So­ci­ety of­ten over­looks the role of phar­ma­cists.

Isaac Danker, 26, from Serem­ban knows this all too well de­spite be­ing only a year into the pro­fes­sion.

The phar­ma­cist, cur­rently at­tached with a pub­lic hos­pi­tal in his home­town, told Ber­nama among the mis­con­cep­tions he has en­coun­tered was that many saw him as merely a face be­hind the counter, dis­pens­ing pills.

There are also those who mis­take him for a doc­tor, prob­a­bly be­cause as a phar­ma­cist, he wears a white coat too.

The Cy­ber­jaya Uni­ver­sity Col­lege grad­u­ate, how­ever, still loves his job and be­lieves that phar­ma­cists can con­trib­ute a lot to the com­mu­nity through pri­mary health care.

Re­tail phar­ma­cist Nurliyana Yahya, 28, echoes Isaac’s sen­ti­ment.

She had en­coun­tered many who did not trust her knowl­edge in medicine and thought that she worked un­der a doc­tor’s su­per­vi­sion.

“Yes, we are not the ones who do the di­ag­no­sis; doc­tors do, but we do have bet­ter knowl­edge when it comes to medicine.

“We work to­gether with the doc­tors not un­der them,” said the Univer­siti Te­knologi Mara (UiTM) grad­u­ate.

Nurliyana re­signed from her job at a pub­lic hos­pi­tal in Ka­jang last year to open a phar­macy in the same district with her three friends.

Now that she has to meet with cus­tomers ev­ery day, she finds that there are also those who have high ex­pec­ta­tions from their phar­ma­cists.

“They are those who over­es­ti­mate (our ca­pa­bil­i­ties). They thought their ill­nesses can sim­ply be treated with medicines but with­out see­ing the doc­tor.

“They ask for medicines that we can­not pre­scribe such as an­tibi­otics. Maybe they pre­fer to come to us be­cause our con­sul­ta­tion is free com­pared to doc­tors,” she said, adding that as com­mu­nity phar­ma­cists, they have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to help the com­mu­nity in get­ting a good health­care, not to just do busi­ness.

She has learned, through ex­pe­ri­ence, that in or­der to pro­vide the best ser­vice, com­mu­nity phar­ma­cists need to be able to gain peo­ple’s trust.

“Some­times when we sug­gest some­thing dif­fer­ent than what they nor­mally take, they don’t trust our as­sess­ment and as­sume we were just try­ing to sell them a new prod­uct.

“The truth is that the sug­ges­tions we make is be­cause we saw that the medicines they were tak­ing were not ef­fec­tive for them, or that there was a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive with lesser side ef­fects,” she ex­plained. Un­der­stand­ing phar­ma­cists’ roles The Malaysian Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety (MPS) pres­i­dent Am­rahi Buang lists three im­por­tant roles played by phar­ma­cists, namely, as the medicine ex­pert, the guardian of the medicine, and as a health­care provider.

Phar­ma­cists spe­cialise in medicine and are re­spon­si­ble in pro­vid­ing medicine that are of qual­ity, safe as well as ef­fi­ca­cious, thus help­ing pro­tect the com­mu­nity from the po­ten­tial side ef­fects of the med­i­ca­tion they need to take.

“For ex­am­ple, if peo­ple are sick they will go to a clinic and seek a doc­tor. Sim­i­larly, if they want to know any­thing about medicine, they must go to a phar­macy and con­sult a phar­ma­cist,” said Am­rahi.

How­ever, ma­jor­ity of peo­ple do not fully un­der­stand what a phar­ma­cist does. This is ev­i­dent by the com­mon prac­tice of buy­ing medicine from a phar­macy with­out con­sult­ing the phar­ma­cist on duty.

“What is hap­pen­ing now is that they will just go to the shelves and take the packet of what­ever they want, then go to the cashier and pay,” he said. He sug­gested the process to be dis­rupted with one sim­ple ques­tion, which is “whom is this medicine for?”

He said that if phar­ma­cists could get the chance to com­mu­ni­cate with the cus­tomer, they could pro­vide them with a con­sul­ta­tion and that would help the cus­tomer in get­ting not only ef­fi­ca­cious but cost-ef­fec­tive medicine as well.

Some of the fol­low-up ques­tions that a phar­ma­cist will ask are “why do they need the medicine?”, “what symp­toms do they ex­pe­ri­ence?” and “how long has the sick­ness been go­ing on?”

Am­rahi cited the ex­am­ple of a per­son who al­ways gets headaches and con­tin­u­ally con­sumes parac­eta­mol.

Parac­eta­mol is a highly com­mon drug used to treat fevers and aches that is eas­ily avail­able in phar­ma­cies and can be bought with­out pre­scrip­tion.

“What if what the per­son is ac­tu­ally suf­fer­ing from are mi­graines? Mi­graines can­not be cured by parac­eta­mol and this per­son is con­sum­ing the drug un­nec­es­sar­ily. This shows how im­por­tant the role of phar­ma­cists are,” he ex­plained.

He added many peo­ple also did not know that un­der the law, phar­ma­cists are al­lowed to pre­scribe group C poi­son for the three reg­u­lar symp­toms; cough, cold and fever; other sim­ple medicines such as creams for skin dis­eases, as well as sup­ple­ments.

Be­sides dis­pens­ing medicines, phar­ma­cists also work in other sec­tions of a hos­pi­tal or health cen­tre, namely in the in­pa­tient unit man­ag­ing the medicines sup­ply for the wards, in the ther­a­peu­tic drug mon­i­tor­ing (TDM) sec­tion, in the to­tal par­enteral nu­tri­tion ther­apy (TPN) sec­tion, in the drug in­for­ma­tion ser­vice (DIS) which is the ref­er­ence cen­tre for doc­tors as well as pub­lic, and in the can­cer drug re­sis­tance (CDR) unit.

They are also clin­i­cal phar­ma­cists who work with doc­tors in de­cid­ing pre­scrip­tions and mon­i­tor­ing medicines for pa­tients, phar­ma­cists who man­u­fac­ture the medicines which in­volve the process of get­ting the right for­mu­la­tion, those who work in the in­dus­try and re­tails, as well as phar­ma­cists who be­come re­searchers and ed­u­ca­tors. Pro­mot­ing phar­ma­cists’ part to the so­ci­ety MPS, as the main phar­ma­cists’ or­gan­i­sa­tion in the coun­try, has been con­stantly pro­mot­ing the roles of phar­ma­cists to so­ci­ety.

“One of the things we did was to cel­e­brate World Phar­ma­cists Day in a big way.

“We started in 2014 and now we have grown. This year all the states are hav­ing their own World Phar­ma­cists Day cel­e­bra­tion. The aware­ness is build­ing,”Am­rahi said.

The World Phar­ma­cists Day is cel­e­brated on Sept 25 ev­ery year and this year’s theme is “Phar­ma­cist: Your Medicine Ex­perts.”

Mean­while, Nurliyana be­lieves that the best way to spread aware­ness is through the so­cial me­dia.

Among oth­ers, she sug­gested phar­ma­cists to share ver­i­fied in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing medicines or any re­lated top­ics with ne­ti­zens, in­clud­ing ex­plain­ing the job scope of a phar­ma­cist.

For com­mu­nity phar­ma­cists, she said it was vi­tal for them to gain the com­mu­nity’s trust and un­der­stand their needs.

This can be done by or­gan­is­ing talks or com­mu­nity events that en­able the phar­ma­cist to com­mu­ni­cate with the so­ci­ety.

Isaac opined that phar­ma­cists who serve in the com­mu­nity should work to­gether with other health­care pro­fes­sion­als, es­pe­cially the doc­tors, in achiev­ing a par­tic­u­lar ob­jec­tive re­gard­ing a dis­ease or any health-re­lated is­sue af­fect­ing the com­mu­nity.

“As a con­se­quence, we will be able to see an im­pact or out­come for this con­tin­u­ous pro­vi­sion of care which pre­vents the bur­den on the cost of health­care on the ter­tiary level,” he said.

He said more em­pha­sis was needed for pri­mary health care in Malaysia as it helps in pre­vent­ing high risk dis­eases, even­tu­ally re­duc­ing the cost of med­i­ca­tion.

“Phar­ma­cists on the other hand can play a more vi­tal role in pre­vent­ing the pro­gres­sion of pa­tient’s dis­eases through var­i­ous ser­vices such as Med­i­ca­tion Ther­apy Ad­her­ence Clinic (MTAC), smok­ing ces­sa­tion pro­gramme, home med­i­ca­tion re­view, and many more,” he said. — Ber­nama

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.