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India may not be considered a healthy country as it accounts for 25 per cent of the global disease burden. Only a pharmacist can work towards a healthy India. It is the onus of pharmacists to stall anemia, anti-microbial drug resistance, antibiotic misuse, malnutrition and adverse drug reaction to counsel patients to promote preventive healthcare, said Dr. VK Subburaj, secretary, department of pharmaceuticals, government of India.

Delving on the 67th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress theme ‘Pharmacists for a Healthy India’, Dr. Subburaj said that with the country accounting for 10 lakh pharmacists employed at pharmacies and in related avenues, the infectious and tropical disease burden was huge where tuberculosis and malaria impacted 5 million of the population. It is only a pharmacist who could prevent the diseases. Going by their contact with patients on a day-to-day basis to dispense drugs, we see they could save at least one per cent of the 5 million lives which is 5,000 patients.

The alarming rise in life style disorders was another concern for the government. Indian population is more diseased compared to China. For instance, the number of diabetics in China was far lower compared to India’s 71 million. Similarly in infant mortality due to low birth weight India’s figures were abysmally poor in contrast to China zero incidence. In case of anemia, India topped the global list. All these indicators point out that India’s basic foundation in health is weak. This is despite the presence of a large pool of qualified pharmacists in the country and those passing out annually from its 1100 pharmacy colleges, pointed out Dr. Subburaj.

Taking cue from the 67th IPC at Mysuru, the pharmacists need to gear up to support the health of the Indian population. The current state of poor health parameters in the country is a clear indication that in hospitals, the role of pharmacists is underutilized and they continue to be mere drug dispensers for a doctor’s prescription. “Now we do not need a pharmacist for this role. The government has taken the services of pharmacists because doctors are in no position to advise on drug therapy protocols because of patient load and time constraints,” he said.

Even in the industry pharmacists can provide guidance in drug discovery, ensure good quality of drugs manufactured and adopt safety practices during storage and transportation of medicines. In a fast changing medical landscape, pharmacists need to embark on knowledge updating through training sessions. The concept of healthy India needs massive effort and focused attention, noted Dr. Subburaj.

There is need to also adopt the same tenets of quality when medical devices are being used in hospitals. Particularly in the case of implants, patients need to be guided on the post-operative care to reduce risk of infections and unnecessary complications. Therefore, a pharmacist's role is significant in improving India’s health parameters, said the Union government’s DOP secretary.
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