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A proposal, ready to be given for the Central health ministry by a group of trained pharmacists who have completed Pharm D programme from a pharmacy college in Kerala, suggests that the role of trained pharmacists in all the healthcare schemes and immunisation programmes of the Central and state governments should be identified and made it mandatory with proper guidelines for implementation.

This specification of services will help use the potential and expertise of the trained pharmacists for the benefit of the general public, according to the Doctor of Pharmacy holders.

The Pharm D interns, hailing from the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the Al Shifa College of Pharmacy in Malappuram district in Kerala, say that where ever drugs, vaccines and other pharmaceutical items are handled or dispensed to the common man, the process should be made through trained pharmacists/in their presence. The Polio Immunisation programme and the many health projects targeting the common men and the children require large quantity of vaccines and medicines, hence the role of pharmacists is necessary in the programmes.

Apart from the services rendered in the curative side, the pharmacists should be involved in the preventive and palliative aspects of the health care. Today, the pharmacists are confined to pharmacies just to dispense the drugs as per the advice of the doctors. This is part of curative aspect of the health care. There are preventive and palliative sides, where also the pharmacists should get opportunities for expert service delivery, said Augustine Xavier George, convener of the Pharm D students union at Al Shifa College.

“There are specially trained graduates in pharmacy (B Pharm) and Pharm D holders. They are unlike the general B Pharm or Pharm D graduates as only some of the degree holders opt for special training after completion of their courses. Even though it is not compulsory, the B Pharm graduates can opt for three months and the Pharm D holders for six months in special training in pharmacy practice in some leading hospital pharmacies as soon as they complete their course. They are the trained pharmacy graduates. In our opinion, this training should be made mandatory for all pharmacy graduates on completion of the degree course, and such pharmacists should be involved in all the health programmes of the country. They should be absorbed into these areas after giving training in preventive and palliative sides,” said Augustine Xavier.

There are several health schemes under the health ministry to prevent various kinds of diseases and for palliative care. For example, he said, the newly introduced Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV), Non-Communicable Disease Prevention & Control Programme, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB), Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Programme (ARSHEP), National Iodine Deficiency Disorder Control Programme (NIDDCP), Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Programme, School Mental Health programme, National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness, National Cancer Control Programme, National Aids Control Programme, and state programmes like ‘Sukrutham’ and Sampoorna Arogya Paddhathi (Total Healthcare Scheme) of the Kerala government should have specified roles for pharmacists.

What is happening in the country today is that while implementing the health projects of central or state governments, the health inspectors or general health nurses from the PHCs will take the responsibility of handling and dispensing of vaccines and medicines. This is an area of trained pharmacists and the government should make amendments in laws in this regard, the students of Pharm D wants the government. The roles of health inspectors and health nurses are different from the services of pharmacists. Similar to their participation, the well qualified and well trained pharmacists should also become participants of healthcare schemes. The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) must consider this part seriously and make suggestions accordingly, the proposal of the Pharm D interns suggests.

When contacted health inspector, R. Sugatha Kumar at Kollam, said “The Pharm D students may not be aware of the situation in Kerala where all the stocks of drugs and medical devices used for all health projects are verified and handled by pharmacists only. But in certain projects like Immunisation programme, no specific role has been allotted for them. Unlike other states, in Kerala the expertise of the pharmacists is well used.”
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