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Community Pharmacist- The Most Accessible Public Health Care Provider

Submitted by on September 26, 2012 – 8:06 PM

Since centuries, “Health Care” as a profession has been evolving by incorporating more patent oriented and care oriented approaches . Public Health is rather a broad approach. Public Health is discipline of health science which aims to promote and protect the health of people in communities by educating the public about their basic health issues, healthy life styles and spread the preventive measures from epidemics. Public Health Providers assures the health safety of community population nationally and internationally.

Evolution in Pharmacy practice since 1960’s has contributed much in Public health and well being of general public across the Globe. The introduction of new innovative approach of “Pharmaceutical Care” By Hepler and Stand changed the approach of Pharmacy practice from “product oriented to Patient oriented”. As health care assures the wellbeing of a person , Pharmaceutical care emphasis on Individualized patient care and better quality of life ensuring safe medical therapy as per individual need of a patient.

Why I relate Community Pharmacist with Public health is because the Community pharmacist is usually the most accessible health care provider in a community. People don’t need any appointment to consult a Pharmacist in community Pharmacist. A pharmacist is usually the most accessible resource personnel, a patient consult for his health issues and medication queries. Community Pharmacy practice has been developed from extemporaneous preparation and medicine selling to Dispensing along with Patient counseling and Education of the patient about proper use of medications to get optimum outcomes. He can play an important role to make patient compliant with his dosage regime by education and counseling him about his medication therapy.

Internationally clinical role of community pharmacist is not only well recognized but  also well established. Literature shows that Pharmacists played an important role in reducing the health care costs by preventing many drug interactions and medication related morbidity and mortality which has been a reason of prolonged hospital stay of many patients. A good inter professional relationship between Physicians and Pharmacists has been a key to successful Medication therapy.

Apart from inpatient care, when it comes to the public health issues, a community pharmacist has many opportunities to utilize his professional knowledge and skills to promote health awareness in his community.  He can act as an active team member of National Public health bodies in conducting many public health campaigns like Immunization and vaccination campaigns. He can create awareness in general public on many basic health issues like “Smoking cessation” and “Drug abuse”. Moreover he can play a very important role in educating public about Mother and Child health care issues.

Community Pharmacists are some sometimes the first person and sometimes the only health care provider, the patient come across for their health needs. One of the emerging roles of pharmacist is in providing useful information about use of Emergency contraceptives.  He can guide about women and men health care issues. Management of the chronic and life time diseases like Asthma, Hypertension and Diabetes, is the era where pharmacist can play a promising role. By educating and counseling the patient about Life style modifications and compliance with the medication regime, Community pharmacist can improve in patient‘s quality of life. He can keep the tracking record and profiles of the chronic patients and make them follow an appropriate care plans in co ordination with their physicians.

When it comes to epidemic control, Pharmacist can be an active member of the National epidemic control team for prevention and awareness as he has easy and effective access general public. He can conduct surveys and research optimizing Public health issues. Moreover there are a lot of opportunities and potential roles, which makes a community pharmacist a promising public health provider in a community. So we can presume that Pharmacy is a multidisciplinary care profession. On one side Community Pharmacist plays his role in Extemporaneous preparation, dispensing, selling quality medicines and counsel the patient about the proper use of medications, how to administer it to get optimum output and educate them side effects and hence promote rational use of Medication and improved quality of life. But the most important thing to be considered here is to excel in a professional field; Pharmacist needs an adequate knowledge and skills which comes from hard work, learning, devotion and be updated with current clinical scenarios.

There is need to include Public Health specialization in Pharm.D curriculum and there should be proper training of Pharmacist to polish his Knowledge and skills. Like Developed countries, Governments of Underdeveloped countries should utilize Pharmacy services efficiently in Public health projects campaigns.

Pharmacy is a life saving profession and being a Pharmacist I believe that “Pharmaceutical care, No matter where”.

About the author: Dr. Hira Shahid is a Consultant Pharmacist in Apothecare Pvt Ltd. She can be reached at : [email protected]

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