Pharmacists across the country converged at the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday, September 25, 2020, to Joined ranks with millions of pharmacists globally to celebrate World Pharmacists Day, this year themed “Transforming Global.”
The annual day is used to highlight the value of the pharmacy profession to stakeholders and to celebrate pharmacy globally. It was originally adopted in 2009 at the World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Every year on September 25th, pharmacists around the globe celebrate World Pharmacists Day. This day focuses on the role pharmacists play in improving health on a global scale.
Speaking during the celebration, Liberian Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah narrated that immediately when she ascended at the helm of the Ministry, the Pharmaceutical Department was firstly engaged by her team in order to improve the sector, something she had envisaged in the private sector.
“We firstly invited the Department’s heads to a meeting to keep the system workable, because providing accessible and quality health delivery is something we had envisioned while in the private sector. Thereafter, we also engaged all of our pharmacists across the Country. This strategy was intended to bring all of our professional pharmacists together, so we can collectively work in unison, resulting to this mammoth gathering of pharmacists who travelled from all works of live to congregate here today.
“I believe they are very importance in our society: pharmacists use their broad knowledge and unique expertise to ensure that people get the best from their medicines. We ensure access to medicines and their appropriate use, improve adherence, coordinate care transitions and so much more,” she told the gathering
Meanwhile, Dr. Jallah believes pharmacists working and holding together is the best solution to eradicating the selling of drugs in street corners in the country, emphasizing “We can do a lot of things if we can work and hold together as a team. People go to a pharmacy and get anything they want of their choice which is bad for our society. All of these things are causing problems for us. However, drugs that are sole in buckets have gone partially, but yet some are still around.”
Lamenting on the ongoing saga with health workers’ refusal to return to work due to salary increment and ambiguous demands, the energetic Minister said the Ministry is still concerned but negotiation and dialogue are the best solutions to addressing their plights.
“People just think we are not concerned about the health care workers’ demands; we are concerned. what I think happening here is we cannot just address all of the issues as once. They (health Workers) are important to us because when you are sick it is their responsibility to take care of you.
“Remember, sickness has no border. Therefore, dialoguing and negotiating with them will give us all a long way. We are here to take care of the people. This is a responsibility that has been given to us,” she noted
Meanwhile, on behalf of the Government of H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah and the great people of Liberia she extended unflinching thanks and appreciation to the Pharmaceutical Association of Liberia (PAL) as well as partners for always working with the Ministry. Minister Jallah at the same time encouraged the Association to continue on its good footing for the betterment of the Country’s health Sector.
Earlier was the Keynote Speaker of the day Dr. Clement Lugala, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Liberia, who believes the role of Pharmacists in the health sector is beyond the product-oriented fashion of medicines and distribution. According to the WHO’s Representative, Pharmacists should seek the interest of their patients and at the same time, build a workable relationship with them in order to meet their professional goals.
“The role of Pharmacists is transforming beyond the product-oriented fashion of medicine and distributing drugs. We must build a relationship with patients; we must listen to them; it is the services we provide to the patients. However, when it comes to pharmacists, you probably think of the person behind the counter that fills your prescription. These pharmacists work long hours, usually standing the entire time. Along with dispensing pills and providing advice on medications, pharmacists also administer immunizations. Pharmacists who conduct research discover and test new medications.
“No matter what capacity pharmacists work in; they are considered medicine experts. These experts have considerable responsibility in health care. It’s up to them to ensure that medicine is effective and safe. Besides knowing about each type of medication, they must know about the different forms it comes in. There are liquids, tablets, capsules, topical medicines, drops, inhalers, and injections. They must also know how different medications react with one another. No wonder it takes eight years of college to become a pharmacist!” he indicated.
However, he used the occasion to call on health practitioners and scientists to embark on manufacturing medication so as to curtail the imputation of drugs on the African continent: “Africa is spending a lot on drugs imputation instead of manufacturing. We have the capacity here. The opportunity of the African Medicine Agency can be a game-changer if we stand up.”
Notwithstanding, Dr. Lugala said transforming the global health agenda will not be achieved fully “if we cannot define the role of the pharmacists, so pharmacists can contribute to key global health areas across different levels; and they must be enabled to serve in these capacities. They need to be facilitated if our pharmacists are to play a role in ECOWAS”.
According to him, Pharmacists can help to reduce the health disparity and achieve health for all if the needed opportunity is given: “if the need opportunity is given to our pharmacists, they will help to reduce the health disparity and achieve health for all…because they are there wherever we talk about access to drugs—even in our own planning and development agenda.”
He proposed for the Pharmaceutical workforce to be “fundamental in our Country, including Liberia can achieve universal health coverage, health security, and the sustainable development goal by 2030.”
Finally, Dr. Lugala, “in addition to safe handling and administration of medications, providing personalized and individualized care for patients is important to ensuring that they’re on the correct medication, at the correct dose, and taking it when appropriate”.