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Pharmacists in Guyana, Caribbean should be involved in patient management- Health Minister

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 August 2022, 17:20 by Denis Chabrol

President of the Guyana Association of Pharmacists and the Caribbean Pharmacists Association, Kalawattie Datt-Singh.

Guyana’s Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony on Wednesday recommended that Caribbean pharmacists join their counterparts in other parts of the world in patient management rather than merely dispensing prescriptions.

He told the formal opening of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists (CAP) CAP2022 Convention that the time has come for pharmacists in the region to be involved in patient management. “While some of our physician colleagues might not like this, in the Developed Countries this is what is happening and that is pharmacists a play a more active role in the management of patients,” said Dr Anthony,  medical doctor by profession.

He explained that the involvement of pharmacists can help to prevent adverse events due to drug interaction in patients who have several comorbidities and are taking different treatments. “If you don’t take them into consideration, you can have all kinds of problems so we have a lot of adverse events that can be prevented if we have the pharmacist being part of that patient’s management team and so I think we have to shift our thinking about the role of pharmacists especially in the management of patients,” he told the CAP2022 being held at the Marriott Hotel.

Dr  Anthony said the role of pharmacists in Guyana needs to be expanded, even as he noted that in Developed Nations pharmacists are allowed to administer injections. “Why is it not happening in the Caribbean? In some countries it’s happening, here it’s not but that’s another area that we need to look at and we probably need to change our old legislation for that to happen,” he told the delegates from several Caribbean countries from as far north as The Bahamas.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony addressing the opening of the Caribbean Pharmacy Association’s Convention at the Marriott Hotel in Guyana.

The Health Minister also challenged the CAP delegates to be on the look out for counterfeit medications as they could prevent recovery from illnesses, even as the region obtains pharmaceutical supplies from several sources.

Dr Anthony cautioned against the “indiscriminate use of antibiotics”, adding that the time has come to stop paying “lip service” to that phenomenon because of increasing anti-microbial resistance.

Caribbean pharmacists were also advised to pay attention to the new directions in medicine such as virus manipulation to produce desirable outcomes, cellular therapy and other types of “more precise medicine.” “As an association, we need to adapt and start orienting our members to be able to take advantage of these opportunities that are coming before us,” he said.

Dr Anthony said , on the other hand, Health Ministers in the Caribbean would have to set policies, increasing and standardising training for pharmacists.

President of the Guyana Pharmacists Association and CAP, Kalawattie Datt-Singh said the practice of pharmacy has expanded in recent years, especially with the onset of COVID-19. Those roles, she said, now includes patient care , filling the gaps of patient education, ensuring patients receive quality and effective medications and playing an active role in the administration of vaccines. “The patients trust and dependency on the pharmacist have increased over the years,” she added.

She hailed the work of her colleague pharmacists across the Caribbean as they are now not mere medication experts but play a “more critical role in the health care system.” Ms Datt-Singh said pharmacists are now primary, specialist and digital health providers.