Tag Archives: Pharmacists

Redefining the roles of pharmacists

By Fabrice Humura

Pharmacists practice in nearly all areas and specialties in healthcare, sometimes behind the scenes and obviously not to the public eye arena, as the medication medicines experts on the healthcare team. They are necessary in all facets of healthcare.  

A Pharmacist as defined by World Health Organization, is a health care professional licensed to prepare, compound, and dispense drugs upon written order known as a prescription. A pharmacist cooperates, consults with, and advises the licensed practitioner concerning drugs.

From this sole definition, a number of popular misconceptions about pharmacy as a profession could be disapproved. The main concern that a pharmacist’ s role is limited to typically picking the tablets off the shelf, counting them out and handing them over does not match with the aforementioned roles streamlined in the definition of WHO.

The role of a pharmacist starts right from the manufacturing of medications; a lot about this is mostly experienced in developed countries which have drug industry. The knowledge of a pharmacist is reliable in preparation of medication to ensure the right ingredients are used in compounding of medicines availed in all forms ranging from solids to liquids to gaseous.  

As medication specialist, pharmacists crucial responsibility is displayed in the healthcare team through the medicines preparations, manufacturing and information they make available.  Pharmacists educate and advise the physicians and other health professionals on medication therapy. They ensure no interaction amid prescribed drugs which could be detrimental to patients.  

A long hectic day full of anticipated and many unanticipated scenarios can pose a physician or any other healthcare professional to prescribe a wrong dose or incorrect medication relatively to a diagnosed infection.  In such cases, the ultimate role of pharmacist becomes evidently recognized as the prescriptions get scrutinized and the pharmacist intervene in advising the healthcare team on the right treatment in conjunction to avoiding the medication errors as well as irrational medicine usage. All these are done out of patient watch and they could not realize the important role of the pharmacist in their recovery. With this concerns therefore, the healthcare team, which inevitably uses medications, must admit the importance of a pharmacist.

As the world is at its highest pace in development, enormous diseases result from this progress due to industrialization, people’s life style to name just a few. Among those diseases include non communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases notoriously known to be amongst deadly diseases.

Pharmacists don’t detach from providing information and advice on management of those non communicable diseases and assistance to patients living with them. Moreover, pharmacists are not impeded to screen for blood glucose level, blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference and other health status values which can predetermine the early developmental stage of non communicable diseases.

Succinctly, a pharmacist by the perception of many is not solely the person who typically takes a request for medicines, evaluates the authenticity of the prescription and dispenses the medication as you pay, but a pharmacist is the first and foremost a patient centered healthcare professional ready to explain to people why they take their medications, what are they for, the names and strength of the medication and expected outcomes while taking medication.

Mr. Fabrice is a Pharmacy Student at University of Rwanda. College of Medicine and Health sciences. Twitter: @fhumura


How Pharmacists can Improve Adherence to Medication

By Florence Nishimwe

According to the World Health Organization, adherence is the extent to which a person’s behavior (e.g. taking medications, following and/or executing lifestyle changes) corresponds with agreed-upon recommendations from health care providers.

Taking medications correctly may seem like a simple or personal matter, but not taking medication as directed is a complicated and common problem.  For example, from a review done by Beena Jimmy and Jimmy Jose in 2011, approximately 50% of patients in developed countries do not take their medications as prescribed. This can be resolved by every healthcare provider’s action especially pharmacists. Clear instructions provided by healthcare professionals increase knowledge about the importance of treatment and reduce the risks of non-adherence to medications.

“Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them”- C. Everett Koop, MD, former US Surgeon General

Adhering to medication is critical in determining therapeutic outcomes. Having patients at the center of our profession should be our priority as pharmacists. Pharmacists should be involved in collaborating with patients and other healthcare professionals to address this problem of non-adherence through patient counseling. We should also encourage patients to reach out to us in case they experience problems with their medicines. Such problems may include adverse reactions to the medicines. Adverse reactions are one of the main causes of non-adherence. This would be a  follow-up to find out if patients are taking the medicines. It won’t guarantee 100% adherence but it will greatly help in encouraging patients in taking their medicines.

Remember, if patients don’t take their medicines as directed, it could put their present and future health at risk. In turn, this will surely affect all of us.


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The writer is a B. Pharm graduate of University of Rwanda and a member of IPSF AfRO Media and Publications Subcommittee.