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Pharmacy and Public Health

Tips and plans from a week in Cape Town

I recently had the privilege to spend five days at the School of Public Health (SOPH) at the University of the Western Cape, during the Winter School. My main interest was in the short courses in 'Rational Medicines Use' and 'Medicines Supply Management', and the least I can say is that it was worth travelling up there, and not only for the magnificent views from the upper floors! SOPH and ITM are partners in the ITM-DGD agreement 2017-2021 (FA4).

During the courses the 'technical' pharmaceutical subjects are framed and analysed through a broader public health lens. The rational use of medicines may only be growing in these times of global antimicrobial resistance. The module 'Rational Medicines Use' introduces a wide range of tools to promote and investigate this. The module 'Medicines Supply Management' offers an overview of policies, regulations, management principles and assessment tools. In both cases, the participants learn how to master evaluation, monitoring and research, and they are guided to see rational use of medicines and supply management not as isolated fields of expertise, but rather as essential and interdependent components of a pharmaceutical system.

The modules are organised and coordinated by Dr. Hazel Bradley, an experienced and committed public health pharmacist, and by Prof. Richard Laing from Boston University. During my stay, we discussed extensively the potential synergies with the ITM’s pharmaceutical network, which has a specific expertise in Quality Assurance (in the context of the global market), and may count on the skills of QUAMED and of the Be-cause Health platform.  

We agreed that there is a great need to finetune the activities of the few groups that bring together pharmacy and public health, because they need to build comprehensive and patient-centered expertise and training tools together. We also agreed that we should support junior (and less junior) colleagues, to enable them to analyse and publish their field data. They could have a great impact on policy makers to create and improve the pharmaceutical systems.

The gap between academia and field pharmacy has not been bridged yet. Together, we may have the means and the capacity to do so!

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