‘You are considered and seen as the main care-provider’, Lawrence tells Pharmacy Convention

(MINISTRY OF PUBLIC HEALTH) – Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence on Sunday said enhancing the level of patient care as well as improving ethical standards in the delivery of service by Pharmacists are two areas of critical importance to the Health sector.

Addressing the 16th Annual Pharmacy Convention held at the Guyana Marriott, Kingston Georgetown, Lawrence agreed that the theme: “Improving Patient Care through High Ethical Standards”, selected by the members of the Guyana Pharmacists’ Association for the Convention is a wise and apt choice.

Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Public Health.

The one-day convention which was organised by the Guyana Pharmacists’ Association attracted some 200 participants both from private and public sector pharmacies; and students from the University of Guyana and the Ministry of Public Health, Pharmacy Programmes. Also participating were pharmaceutical companies from Guyana; Carlisle Laboratory Ltd. from Barbados and Federated Pharmaceutical Co Ltd from Jamaica who used the opportunity to display their products and services.

In her feature remarks, Lawrence indicated that the Ministry’s Health’s Vision 2020 has as its top priority the improvement of Primary Health Care for all, which incorporates the key component of patient care.

“It is quite heartening to know that the Guyana Pharmacist Association has prioritised this area of care and is exhorting all its practitioners to be cognizant of these fundamental objectives… Fundamentally, to my mind, it involves the level of satisfaction that a patient derives from the interaction that he has with the medical personnel concerning his medical condition and the treatment he receives”, Lawrence said.

The patient’s expectation of a pharmacist in the role of pharmacist expands far beyond the product-oriented functions of distributing and dispensing medicines and health supplies.  In light of their unique knowledge and expertise, their service is more patient-oriented, which allows the patient to become more involved in his own health care as you are the accessible resource for health and medication information.

The Minster in highlighting the importance of pharmacists within the health care system said that ever so often, their roles and responsibilities are generally overlooked by not only patients but other health workers.

“Apart from dispensing the prescribed medication, our pharmacist is the go-between the patient and the doctor; he is the key individual, the person next in line, who can supply the additional medical information that the Doctor did not have enough time perhaps to provide”, she said.

The Minister believes that interfacing with pharmacist helps a patient to get a clearer picture and a better understanding of their medical condition. This she said, allows one to ask pertinent questions about their diagnosed condition, their treatment and the drugs that have been administered by a doctor.

She also noted that very often, a patient is being saved a trip to the emergency room or outpatient department due to consultation with a pharmacist.

“We may complain of feeling unwell, but make the decision not to consult the doctor, but to repair to the pharmacist and relate the symptoms that we have experienced. Based on his knowledge and experience, the pharmacist advises us and dispenses medication that brings relief and so prevents a trip to the emergency room”. Lawrence noted.

The Minister pointed out that she’s aware of the many challenges  especially the of misuse of Antibiotics resulting in drug resistance, improper circulation and use of prescription drugs, drug quality on the market and expiry dates and outdated Pharmacy Laws and regulations. However, she urged the participants to collectively commit to exploring ways of circumventing these challenges rather than letting it hinder their practice.

Lawrence encouraged the participants to treat their patients with respect and use the large window of opportunity to educate and advise them with the appropriate facts and thus contribute to improved quality patient care in our society.

“Engage in discussions on lifestyle changes, healthy diets, on the need for physical exercise and the responsible and minimal use of alcohol and tobacco, the modifiable risk factors that fuel the non-communicable diseases that account for over 70% of all deaths in Guyana”, she said.

The Minister underscored the importance of high ethical standards within any health organisation. She added that standards influence everything an organisation does and if members act contrary to the Best Practices and Standards Guidelines, then the image becomes tarnished and that level of public trust is undermined.

“You are dealing with drugs and people and you have the responsibility to protect your patients at all times, to dispense the medication with the dosage required and not to take advantage of the patient financially or otherwise for your economic gains. This speaks directly to your value system, your accountability and transparency as you provide the essential health services”. Lawrence stressed.

The Minister in concluding her feature address urged the participants to engage their practitioners in Professional Development Sessions so that they can continue to promote improved standards in pharmacy practice and all stakeholders are kept abreast of regional and international best practices and standards which are so vital to safeguarding the health and well-being of the Guyanese population.

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