At a conference, hosted jointly by the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association, the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists and the Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association, held in Nassau, Bahamas from the 11th to 18th August 2013, Pharmacists from 43 Commonwealth countries met to discuss the role of pharmacists in “Enhancing Optimal Pharmaceutical Care through Technology”.
It became evident during these discussions that government policies on healthcare were being redesigned in many countries across the Commonwealth. The Bahamas has a relatively new Health Act that was passed in parliament in 2009 and a Council that was ascended in 2010; Governance and policies for the National Prescription Drug Plan (NPD) were put in place in 2011, and the development of a pharmacovigilance framework has been started.
There must be a pharmacist’s involvement at the highest level in public sector health departments to ensure the best use of medicines and to provide cost effective healthcare, with corresponding improved patient outcomes. Pharmacists are key professionals to give advice and support about medicines which are integral to delivering the best health care – which must be evidence based.
The conference identified the widening scope for pharmacists and the need for them to encompass the myriad of technologies that are now available to them. These concepts, presented to pharmacists during the conference, will be taken back to their countries within the Commonwealth and the knowledge gained will be used to improve patient care.
During a special workshop which dealt with the pharmacist’s roles in working with people with physical and mental disabilities, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals learned directly from members of disability groups how they could assist in improving their access to medicines and to providing the best healthcare for them. Health plans in Commonwealth countries should include access for people with disabilities utilising new technologies and systems, and which must be made available, accessible and affordable to all. Healthcare professionals realised during the workshop the need for people with disabilities to be recognised as equals with their own capabilities for making their own decisions about health and being independent.
As a result we therefore commit ourselves:
- To ensuring that pharmacists strive to have a greater influence in strategic planning of healthcare policies at a national level.
- To encourage pharmacists towards reflective learning processes which meet the challenges for their new and expanding roles.
- To encourage pharmacists to advocate for the most appropriate forms of technology to deliver improved patient care.
- To support the implementation of national and regional policies that promote equitable access to quality, safe, affordable, essential medicines to all, as mandated by WHO.
- To work closely with disability groups and support the training of pharmacists to provide an inclusive pharmaceutical service for people with physical and mental disabilities.
As a result we request that:
- The Minister of Health in the Bahamas ensures that pharmacists are involved at the highest level in the further development and expansion of the new Health Insurance Plan.
- The Ministry of Health in the Bahamas advance as a matter of priority the completion of the Pharmacovigilance Centre.
- The Ministers of Health in all Commonwealth countries involve pharmacists at all levels in any discussions where medicine policies are being considered.
- Governments consider persons with disabilities when crafting health policies in order to make an inclusive society where all people can participate equally.