Health minister praises work of pharmacists in Barbados

Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill hailed the work of pharmacists in Barbados and urged them to use the trust they have gained in communities around the island to facilitate improved national health outcomes.

Gooding-Edghill said pharmacists provided the requisite enabling environment to leverage change and the promotion of a society of excellent health and wellness.

“I take pride if only to pause to assure you that my ministry will continue to make the requisite policy and legislative reforms to improve your plight as pharmacists as you continue to make an invaluable contribution across the continuum of an effective health care regime in Barbados,” he told pharmacists attending a luncheon held by the Barbados Pharmaceutical Association on Sunday to mark the beginning of Pharmacy Week.

The minister said the work of pharmacists in the island continued to position Barbados as unique because it is the only country that has a shared drug formulary for public and private use.

“We stand out in the (Caribbean) because of the vision of the late Prime Minister Tom Adams, whose vision made it possible for individuals to walk into a pharmacy with their identification card and benefit from medication on the drug formulary of the Barbados Drug Service,” he said.

“Let me also thank you for the partnership exhibited with the Barbados Drug Service. Your continued support and commitment to our home-grown model of the Barbados Drug Service constitutes a fine example of another pillar of participation and cooperation.

“Your services have certainly not gone unnoticed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and in the spirit of cooperation, I will be inviting the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society to a meeting later this month to hear your views, understand your challenges and to listen to what legislative changes are needed from your perspective as we seek to modernise the 1970 Health Services Regulations (Control of Drugs).

Gooding-Edghill the legislative review was timely, and it was in keeping with the ministry’s mandate of modernising health legislation.

“Critical to this process is the urgent need for pharmacists to transition from merely ‘dispensing’, as a priority, to that of Medication Therapy Management, to facilitate improved national health outcomes and to show your true value in promoting wider national development,” he said.

“Among areas worthy of consideration is the possibility of the pharmacist and pharmacy only classifications… Let me also assure you that the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be seeking to increase the number of drug inspectors who, as you know, are so vital to surveillance and the protection of public health.”

The minister said health authorities were also giving “greater consideration” to leveraging the trust of pharmacists in new and creative ways of managing non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“We already have pharmacists that are highly trusted in the community, and because of that high level of public trust in you, it is my considered view that pharmacists need to have a greater role in supporting public health emergencies,” he said.

“It is my desire that pharmacists should be encouraged to use that high level of trust in the community to help the Ministry of Health and Wellness promote and assist with vaccination drives, glucose testing and monitoring now that technology is transforming health outcomes.”

He added: “Given our current state of high incidences of NCDs, and the adverse impacts on health care cost and national productivity, pharmacists are best placed to help with the NCD drive, nutrition, and what medicines help and don’t help with foods.

“To this end, an invitation will be extended to your society to give meaningful participation in our national NCD stakeholders meeting on the reduction of salt and sugar intake in September, as we tackle this national challenge, as every effort is made to promote a healthier, happier, and more productive Barbados.”

Gooding-Edghill said continuing professional education must be a critical change in an amended health services regulation and a key requirement for re-registration, but he also urged young pharmacists to seek specialisation.

(AR)

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