This personal opinion is being put across because it looks to me as if the general public and some government officials are not aware of the very important contributions being made by pharmacists towards the fight against this COVID -19 pandemic. Pharmacists are well known as experts on drugs. but pharmacists play different parts in different positions, like community pharmacists, hospital pharmacists, academicians, regulators researchers, administrators and medical representatives, to mention just a few.
- Community practice pharmacists:
First place of call for the public, they …very friendly, day /night service, very near and no consultation fees charged. But we are also in the front line of attack by the pandemic because until the effects of the pandemic were made known, we were all unprotected, as we did not know who was carrying the virus at that time. We give counselling sessions to patients on ALL their drug requirements. indeed, our facilities also do basic vital tests like, blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index and do shop and home deliveries. Fake drug information and undesirable side effects are also collected and information passed on to FDA Ghana and drug firms for their market surveillance activities.
As pharmacists’ business wing, we also have employees, pay municipal, corporate, personal, employee (PAYE) taxes as well as social security taxes, rents, water and light bills.
Throughout the close down period, community pharmacies continued to operate, at their own peril, and served the public day and night with drugs for various life-threatening conditions.
- Hospital pharmacists
The clinical pharmacists in our hospitals are in constant professional discussions with their medical colleagues on the best drugs to be used for any given medical condition, since different drugs have different actions on the same medical condition. With so many new drugs being used in medical practice, it becomes very important for a clinical pharmacist, the specialist in drugs, to update and help his medical colleagues to choose the most appropriate drug for a given medical condition such as the current COVID-19. It is also refreshing to note that a Pharmacist is in charge of the distribution of essential and lifesaving drugs as well as some of the collected viral samples, using the famous drones… zipline technology!
- Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG)
This important group of drug manufacturers consists of very hard-working pharmacist entrepreneurs who are manufacturing about 49 locally reserved drugs for our hospitals, pharmacies and clinics. Immediately the Covid-19 issue arose and they had the meeting with His Excellency the President, most of them changed their normal production lines into hand sanitizer lines, a new product and for some of them, an insignificant product line. A sacrifice government must appreciate, by buying all stocks produced to remove this unplanned financial burden on them. This act greatly increased the availability of hand sanitisers and rubbing alcohol, and greatly reduced the general initial high costs. Indeed, various available sizes of hand sanitizers are now easily available on our market. Production of other drugs specifically targeted to Corvid- 19, like azithromycin and hydroxyl-chloroquine, are also now on going under the supervision of Production Pharmacists.
- Regulatory bodies
The highly respected and accredited Food & Drugs Authority, Pharmacy Council and Ghana Standards Authority are all being headed by highly qualified pharmacists and they have been playing their part to support the government fight Covid-19.
- Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana
The unified voice of pharmaceutical industry consists of pharmacists and entrepreneurs involved in importation, wholesaling, marketing and distribution of ethical pharmaceutical products through well trained medical representatives. The Chamber also has contacts, country representatives, with big ethical world renown pharmaceutical companies, who, at short notice, are able to import, wholesale all essential drugs that are not manufactured locally. At the moment Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana is in high level discussions with various international partners to establish a modern one stop modern pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Ghana.
Suffice to say that, pharmacist academicians and researchers are all playing their part behind the scenes to support and contribute to the effective management and control of Covid-19 in Ghana.
>>>The writer is a pharmacist