Commonwealth Day 2022
Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming
Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming
This year’s Commonwealth Day theme on connecting, innovating, and transforming, resonates personally and professionally.
Like many Commonwealth Pharmacists Association (CPA) members, I am a qualified pharmacist with experience working in Europe and Asia. I have worked in various roles, from frontline clinical care to global health policy programmes.
With each position and in each new country, the pharmacy profession has always welcomed me, connecting me to my new home and allowing me to innovate, transform and contribute to the profession, and my local community, in different ways.
I am proud to say that this year’s theme highlights the values that the CPA has embedded across all its work areas since the charity was established in the 1970s. It works to connect a global community of pharmacists to push their professional boundaries while innovating and transforming the health of their communities.
The CPA is building a shared future across the Commonwealth by delivering a wide range of programmes. These programmes align with its core strategic goals to address issues around the access, use and quality of medicines. They also establish pharmacists as core health professionals in advancing the goals of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
2021 — Civil Society Policy Forum
In 2021, the CPA, in partnership with the Commonwealth Health Professions and Partners Alliance (CHPA), organised the Civil Society Policy Forum. Over 300 people from across the globe logged in to discuss the theme of “Equitable and Appropriate Access to Quality Medicines and Vaccines in the Commonwealth: Innovative Approaches and Lessons Learned from COVID-19”.
With expert input from representatives across the health ecosystem – frontline clinical pharmacists to local manufacturers in low/middle-income countries (LMICs) to humanitarian aid personnel, the CPA put forward five robust policy recommendations for health ministers to prioritise. These also highlighted the expertise and contribution of pharmacists throughout the pandemic and, going forward, utilising our skills as key to building health workforce capacity and strengthening health systems.
2022 — Voluntary Information and Price Sharing Database
Reducing the costs of essential medicines, vaccines, and health technologies has been a critical health priority for Commonwealth health ministers since 2017. Still building on the themes of improved access and UHC, the CPA, as chair of the working group, worked in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat and WHO to develop the Voluntary Information and Price Sharing Database (VIPSD), launched in October 2021.
The new VIPSD database works towards this goal by helping to reduce procurement costs; utilising technology to connect and share information on products, suppliers, and supply chains. This coordinated action aims to increase equitable access to essential quality medicines and health supplies. The working group is currently establishing a deployment plan to encourage the use of the database across the Commonwealth and is seeking institutes interested in participating in the VIPSD.
2022 — SPARC PROGRAMME
Well known for it’s Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS), delivered in partnership with the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), this CPA programme has inspired pharmacists to lead in AMS, establishing the profession as medicines management experts within multidisciplinary teams.
In January 2022, the CPA won a Fleming Fund grant to deliver the Surveillance and Prescribing Support for Antimicrobial Stewardship Resource Capacity Building (SPARC). The programme will run across 22 countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Working alongside Pharmacists in each country, the CPA team will engage with clinical practitioners, health system managers, ministries, and policymakers to deliver three core projects:
- Developing a mobile App that supports antimicrobial prescribing in human and animal health. Funded for five years, the App will be available offline and aligned to local needs and requirements, potentially extending to other therapeutic areas.
- Point Prevalence Survey (PPS) – includes training, data collection, and data analysis on the use of antimicrobials in up to 5 sites in 6 countries.
- CPA developed training and support for continuous quality improvement (QI) in antimicrobial stewardship, enabling healthcare teams to champion AMS across multidisciplinary teams, patients, and policy makers.
SPARC builds on the success of CwPAMS and for the first time, takes the CPA outside of its traditional Commonwealth countries, connecting with new partners and health systems – advancing the UHC agenda and advocacy for Pharmacists.
Underpinning these many projects is the CPA’s online platform for continuing professional development, enabling pharmacists to develop their clinical and leadership skills.
The research, monitoring and evaluation the CPA is undertaking supports this project. In it, the CPA regional councillors recently agreed on a focused research programme that encompasses:
- Workforce data gap analysis – aligning with WHO and FIP, the CPA will survey the Commonwealth pharmacists workforce.
- Review of Pharmacy regulation in Commonwealth countries – to understand the gaps, challenges, and opportunities in independent regulation.
- Research into the role of pharmacists in LMICs – to support advocacy for enhanced roles and embed these further.
Research in these areas will help better understand the global pharmacy landscape, particularly in LMICs and support further advocacy efforts to advance the UHC agenda.
Through all these different programmes and many other areas of work, the CPA has fully embraced the Commonwealth ethos of deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill. And I’m sure will continue to do so long into the future by connecting, innovating and transforming healthcare for the many communities that pharmacists serve.
A qualified pharmacist and strong advocate for patient-led care, Meghna is passionate about how patients access healthcare and use medicines in their everyday lives. She has an extensive portfolio in different sectors. She has worked in several national roles in the UK and Singapore, developing and implementing medicines policy and digitising health services for improved patient care and outcomes. Currently based in Switzerland, Meghna brings extensive strategy and policy experience to drive CPA initiatives and partnerships across the Commonwealth.
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