Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Junor wants more crucial role for pharmacists in health care

Observer Reporter
Friday, April 04, 2003



Health minister John Junor (right) discusses the new role of pharmacists in delivering health care with Paul Lindsay (centre), president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica and Lascelles Chin, Chairman and CEO of the Lasco Group.

HEALTH minister John Junor has urged Jamaican pharmacists to take a new direction in the delivery of health care.

"In a rapidly evolving health care sector, the future role of the pharmacist will encompass the wider framework of providing pharmaceutical care services rather than be focused on drug dispensation", Junor told members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ).

He was speaking at the official launch of the society's sponsorship campaign for the eighth Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Conference scheduled for Ocho Rios from August 14 to 17 this year.

About 500 pharmacists from 39 countries are expected to participate in the conference.

In his address to members of the PSJ on Wednesday at the Courtleigh hotel, the health minister said pharmacists must now operate as counselors and educators, who assess the total needs of clients and match the drug therapy with these needs to maximise effectiveness and reduce risks. The health ministry, he noted, was already in discussion with the PSJ on deepening the involvement of pharmacists in health care to include their participation in "ward rounds" with health teams at hospitals.

Junor later told the Observer that in preparation for the start of the National Health Fund (NHF) programme in June this year, his ministry was collaborating with all the major drug distributors to ensure that the more affordable generic drugs would be available nationwide. Fourteen chronic diseases have been identified by the Ministry of Health for assistance under the NHF programme. Under that programme, the Government will shoulder most of the cost for more than 70 drugs used in treating those diseases.

Meanwhile, Paul Lindsay, president of the PSJ, acknowledged the role of pharmacists in providing affordable drugs to Jamaicans. He told the Observer that it was now mandatory for all pharmacists to inform customers of the availability of generic drug that can be substitutes to the more expensive "brand-named" medications. He also noted that members of his association would be working with the health ministry to educate Jamaicans on disease management and in promoting healthy lifestyles for disease prevention.

This will be the first year that Jamaica will be hosting the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Conference. Under the theme "Pharmacy practice changes -- better outcomes", the conference will include presentations and workshops in the areas of pharmacy practice; nature, the environment and health; HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, and human development.

Already, some major pharmaceutical companies have committed their support for the conference with LasMed sponsoring the participation of three overseas presenters and H D Hopwood contributing a percentage of revenue from its sales of specific pharmaceutical products.