Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Subramaniam officiated the National Level World Pharmacists Day 2017 celebrations at Aeon Mall Bukit Raja in Klang on recently. The event was organized by the Selangor State Health Department (JKNS) in collaboration with the Pharmaceutical Services Division (PSD) and the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS)
In his speech, he said “Pharmacist are entrusted with a huge responsibility. The theme for this year’s World Pharmacists Day “From research to health care: Your pharmacist is at your service” captures the responsibilities of pharmacists from the very beginning of the chain, during the research period of a drug; right up to the end of the chain, when the drug is supplied to the patient. Pharmacists are caretakers of the whole medication management chain and carry a very heavy responsibility”.
He commended the organizers for having the celebration in a public area as it shows that pharmacists want to have a close relationship with the public”, he added.
Dr Subramaniam stated that the Ministry of Health (MOH) had stringent laws in place to control the quality of medication production, as well as the marketing of medication to the public, did not become victims. These laws were enforced by pharmacists.
“I would like to wish congratulations to all pharmacists for their hardwork and contribution to the healthcare system. I wish all of you a Happy World Pharmacists Day.”, said Dr Subramaniam. “Pharmacists are not as prominent as doctors to the public eye because they work behind the scenes, and this celebration is a perfect opportunity to showcase their roles and contribution to the public as well as show appreciation and acknowledgment to the pharmacists in Malaysia.”
On the roles that pharmacists could play in educating the public, Dr Subramaniam stated that “Pharmacists play an important role in educating the public on medication wastage, as many did not value the free medication provided to them by the government”.
Dr Salmah Bahri, Senior Director of the Pharmaceutical Services Division, Ministry of Health shared that as of 31 August 2017, there were 15,368 registered pharmacists in Malaysia making the ratio of pharmacists to population, 1:2082. She added that 7,690 registered pharmacists served in the public sector and 4,830 registered pharmacists served in the private sector.
“There are 2,845 registered pharmacists who work as community pharmacists. This sector is not very well understood by the general public, therefore in line with international practices, we have created a pharmacy logo that is specific for community pharmacies”. The logo was launched by the Health Minister during the opening ceremony.
Responding to a reporter, Dr Subramaniam stated, “There are initiatives being taken by the government to curb online sales of pharmaceutical products. However, as many of the accounts were created out of Malaysia there is a limit to the action that the MOH can take”.
Dr Salmah added that in 2014 the Pharmaceutical Services Division created an Intelligence and Cyber Forensic section to address the issue of online sales of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. With the assistance of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, a special task force under this section successfully closed down 1534 sites from 2923 that were investigated.
MPS President, Tn Hj Amrahi stated that community pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals and play a very big role in educating the public on their medication, on their rights, and on their responsibilities. “MPS has launched an “Ask for your prescription campaign” since last year to educate the public on their rights to a complete prescription and what a complete prescription looks like”.
He added, “We have advised the MOH to make it mandatory for primary care doctors to provide a complete prescription as it will benefit the patient. It is easier to educate a doctor to provide a complete prescription than to educate a whole nation to ask for a complete prescription”.
Amrahi said the public attendance at the event today surpassed their expectations. “This event has given us the opportunity to educate the public and showcase the profession in all its glory. For the first time we were able to showcase Military Pharmacists on such a grand scale thanks to Brigadier General Dato’ Dr A Halim Hj Basari, Director of Pharmacy Health Services Division Malaysian Armed Forces. We also showcased Community Pharmacists, Hospital Pharmacists, and pharmacists from other sectors. The crowd was not only made up of curious Malaysians but many parents and aspiring pharmacists who benefited from the information provided by the pharmacists.”
One of the highlights of the event was the Pharmacist Oath Ceremony. The crowd was silent and respectful as they recited their oath. Other highlights included a flash mob dance by the pharmacists and a dikir barat performance.