National Pharmacy News

Title: Pharmacists aren't just Medicine Sellers
Date: 28-Jun-2019
Category: New Straits Time
Pharmacists can support the government's aspiration of universal healthcare through their professional services. FILE PIC

By AMRAHI BUANG - June 27, 2019 @ 11:09pm

THE Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) recognises the plea made by general practitioners (GPs) at a townhall with the Health Ministry to harmonise their consultation fees.

MPS supports the call for an increase in GP fees, provided community pharmacists dispense medicine to create an integrated healthcare ecosystem.

Creating an integrated healthcare system that sees the participation of all stakeholders, especially community pharmacists, is key to Malaysia achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

This will ensure healthcare is accessible to all Malaysians.

An increase in consultation fees, which has been highlighted over the years, will result in GPs not relying on selling medicine to earn a living, which they do now.

If the authorities address the consultation fees issue, then patients can decide where to buy medicine.

If patients request a prescription, then the doctors should give it to them.

But in reality, if GPs refuse to give the prescription, what can patients do?

If the GP fees are addressed, but they insist on selling medicine, then this gives the impression that GPs only want to increase their income at the expense of patients.

How will the government ensure patients are given their prescriptions upon request?

The onus is not on patients, but on GPs to give the prescription.

Such a move will see the rise of patient empowerment ? being able to control their health management to reduce their dependence on physicians for a better quality of life.

The World Health Organisation?s Health 2020 initiative sets patient empowerment as the main goal for achieving better results in healthcare.

Malaysia scored 70 per cent in the UHC index, as stated in the 2017 Global Monitoring Report: Tracking Universal Health Coverage.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 21, said the government would strengthen public-private partnership with the establishment of the Health Advisory Council.

MPS believes an integrated system, instead of a partnership, will break the silos in the industry, which will benefit people, especially those from the Bottom 40 per cent (B40) and Middle 40 per cent M40 groups.

The healthcare system has to be integrated, especially on UHC. There seems to be control in the public sector, but no control in the private sector. It is not a level- playing field in the private sector as there are dominant players.

The lack of awareness of non-communicable diseases is the main reason Malaysian?s lifespan is plateauing at around 75.

Pharmacists and doctors should join forces and be the primary healthcare team to support patient care and educate people.

New schemes by the government for the B40 ? mySalam and Peduli Kesihatan B40 ? should involve community pharmacists as they can respond to symptoms and can prescribe medications under the category of Group C scheduled medications.

Pharmacists can support the government?s aspiration of UHC through their professional services.

Community pharmacists are accessible to all.

Furthermore, the prices of medicine are more transparent compared with GPs and private hospitals, which do not practise itemised billing for medication. Allocations via healthcare cards can go a long way if patients can see community pharmacists for minor ailments.

MPS has been urging decision-makers to adopt dispensing separation to let community pharmacists play a bigger role to serve the people.

There are more than 2,780 community pharmacies in urban and rural areas.

However, community pharmacists are seen as mere medicine sellers. This view has to be corrected.

Community pharmacists are part of the community. We are medicine experts; we are guardians of medicine; and, we are healthcare professionals.

A strong referral system that involves community pharmacists referring patients to GPs can benefit people.

President, Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society




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