Enhancing the Role of Pharmacists in Public Health in Developing Countries
In developing countries, particularly in Africa, the provision of health services leans heavily towards today’s epidemics, including HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. This calls for different approaches to the implementation of interventions from a public health perspective. These approaches should include sector-wide targeting of different interventional points, which include the participation of different “specialists”. This increases effectiveness and efficiency and maximises the use of the minimal resources at the community’s disposal. For pharmacists, a collaborative approach to combat today’s public health challenges should be viewed as an opportunity for the profession to assume previously inaccessible service roles and, in the process, reinforce their professional image. As the custodians of medicines — a component that draws up to 60 per cent of healthcare budgets in some developing countries during an era when vast resources are made available by the international community for pharmaceuticals — never before has there been a better opportunity for pharmacists in developing countries to assume leadership positions to manage resources effectively. This can be done through meticulous selection of value-for-money and effective products, efficient procurement, and timely distribution of these medicines to the communities in need.