Community pharmacists are partners in public healthcare

Rapid ageing, the increase in chronic disease burden and polypharmacy are real and critical healthcare issues in Singapore right now. Indeed, community pharmacists can and should be tapped more for primary care transformation ("Tap pharmacists to help care for ageing population" by Mr Li Ze Zong; Nov 11).

Community pharmacists are equipped to reach out to and empower the public with knowledge on medication use and lifestyle modifications to cope with chronic conditions (for example, diabetes) and minor ailments (for example, eczema and allergic rhinitis).

Today, we have several pilot programmes where community pharmacists provide care in collaboration with public healthcare institutions.

In one such collaboration, patients have the option of having their medications reviewed and collected at selected pharmacies nearer their homes at their convenience, instead of having to travel to the hospital.

Several diabetes care programmes have recently been launched at various community pharmacies.

One such programme is diabetes risk assessment. It aims to advise the public on the effects of diet and lifestyle habits on the risk of diabetes, and identify those at high risk for further health screening.

Under these programmes, community pharmacists educate patients on their conditions and medications to achieve and maintain better sugar control and reduce risk factors for heart diseases.

To strengthen primary care, community pharmacists are also actively involved in care provision in the intermediate and long-term care sector.

An example is the partnership between the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore (PSS) and the Agency for Integrated Care, where community pharmacists play an essential role in enhancing the capability of nursing homes in managing residents' medication needs and medication use.

Pharmacists are committed to improving the health of residents in Singapore.

PSS hopes to see more policies evolve over time to support the public in accessing care from pharmacists in community pharmacies.

Ng Hong Yen (Ms)

President

Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Community pharmacists are partners in public healthcare'. Print Edition | Subscribe