Pharmacists are the 3rd largest group of healthcare professionals in the world. A majority of pharmacists in India are involved in community settings which serve as the initial level of contact between individuals in a community and healthcare. With an Indian pharmaceutical market expected to reach $ 21 billion by FY21, with a CAGR of 4.5% and drug sales registering significant growth over the past year, the role of pharmacists, which is content to dispense and distribute drugs and medical supplies, is expected to undergo a major change that will help fill the gaps in health care and contribute significantly to national health efforts. Even though pharmacists play a key role in improving care, it is unfortunate that the majority of patients find no difference between the grocer and the pharmacist. It is the need of the hour to make pharmacists an integral part of the health system to provide better health care.
How Pharmacists Can Improve Healthcare in India
The participation of pharmacists can play a vital role in the following areas of health care in the country:
Appropriate use of drugs
A pharmacist can give advice on the administration of medicines, give information on storage conditions and, if necessary, he can advise the patient. A pharmacist can be one of the essential members of healthcare delivery by guiding patients on the rational use of medicines by adhering to good pharmacy practices. Research has shown that when pharmacists explain medications to patients that are prescribed to them, it can dramatically increase patient knowledge about correct medication use by 56-90%.
Also, in India, nearly 70% of the population is deprived of essential medicines for various reasons including the unavailability of health professionals and inappropriate professional advice on the use of medicines. The current number of pharmacists in India can play an important role in improving access to medicines and their safe use.
Community pharmacists can become an excellent source for ensuring adequate nutrition for patients by advising them on basic dietary needs, correcting unhealthy eating habits in children, suggesting a special diet for people with food allergies or diabetes. and participating in campaigns organized in rural areas to educate people on the need for a balanced and nutritious diet. Facts such as people who eat fish are less prone to stroke, symptoms of hyper vitaminosis can cause irregular menstrual cycle, nutraceuticals / dietary supplements can offer many health benefits and pharmacists can communicate this more to ensure better health.
Educate people about sexually transmitted diseases-AIDS
According to the latest government report (2019), India would have around 23.49 lakh of people living with HIV / AIDS (PLHIV) in 2019. The cost of antiretroviral therapy (ART) used to treat
HIV is quite expensive and beyond the reach of a large proportion of the population. Pharmacists can help prevent HIV / AIDS by raising awareness and providing information such as what HIV is, its transmission, risk factors, prevention methods, etc.
Personalization of pharmacotherapy
The personalization of drug therapy described as the personalization of drug selection and drug dosage for a given patient is one of the biggest trends in medicine today. When a physician is concerned with the patient’s diagnosis, he or she is not able to devote time to counseling the patient regarding drug information, pharmaco-economics and alternative therapies, moral support, etc. ., a pharmacist can provide advice to the patient. It can store details of patient history, allergies and other details needed for treatment so that the concept of drug therapy individualization can be implemented.
What needs to be done to increase pharmacist participation in health care
With a severe shortage of healthcare professionals and a lack of properly trained providers in India, maximizing the knowledge and skills of pharmacists can help fill gaps in healthcare and provide a platform for different levels of professional development. .
While in most cases it has been observed that pharmacists have the technical skills but often lack the basic knowledge necessary to make the most of their skills as health practitioners. Those who pursue their careers in pharmacy need to be trained in basic public health skills to effectively manage community health, the essential elements of program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
With advancements in technology and innovation, implementation science is used to understand how to translate evidence into daily practice so that it can be used in all issues of public health, safety and security. drugs to mHealth. Implementation research can help provide the data needed by government to support the integration of pharmacists into public health services. be people across the country in resource-constrained settings.
In addition, there is an immediate need for double-trained professionals in pharmacy and public health. Although a small number of faculties of pharmacy in India offer dual degree programs with PharmD / MPH options, but overall, pharmacy students are only exposed to public health concepts momentarily. A handful of courses are devoted solely to public health in pharmacy, and there are hardly any textbooks to emphasize the role of pharmacy in public health. As a result, there is an urgent need for schools of pharmacy to integrate public health and pharmacoepidemiology courses into their curriculum and to train pharmacists as future public health professionals.
In the context of Indian healthcare, there is an underutilization of the practice of pharmacy and community pharmacy. Pharmacists working in community pharmacies do not provide advice to patients in the usual situation. Government and healthcare organizations need to work closely with pharmacist associations and share common experiences and develop appropriate guidelines so that the role of the pharmacist in providing better healthcare can be recognized.
By Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director, ENTOD Pharma
(DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and ETHealthworld.com does not necessarily endorse them. ETHealthworld.com will not be liable for any damages caused to any person / organization directly or indirectly.)