President’s Message Pharmacy Week 2018

We must have a clear vision of where we want to take our profession.

Pharmacy Week 2018 marks the culmination of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica year of celebration of ninety years of existence of the organization. It also marks the start of a new two- year term of office of the current executive of which I am president. We have chosen the theme; “Access to Pharmacist is Access to Health” to guide discussions and start conversations as we tell our story as professionals.

Through the organizations ninety years we have seen the evolution of “Druggists” who practiced under apprenticeship to formal diploma studies at (CAST) College of Arts, Science and Technology. Along the evolution we became known as “Pharmacists”, similarly the development continued to graduating Bachelor of Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy. Currently, both University of Technology and University of the West Indies offer courses in Pharmacy. Those who have led this profession thus far have set a formidable standard for us to continue in areas of research, entrepreneurship, academia, leadership and nation building. The work and determination put into carrying the pharmacy profession this far could not have been easy. We who have been given the baton understand that we must build unity and channel our collective creativity to achieve the goal of lifting pharmacy to a better position than when we entered.

I want to encourage each of us to continue to own our profession and boldly continue to create the pharmacy story. To do that there are three words that we must always remember, vision, belief and persistence. We must have a clear vision of where we want to take our profession and what legacy we leave behind as we build on what was left for us. Our vision must include how we will be focused on solving some of the problems inherent in our world today. We must therefore be more than healthcare providers but also thinkers and solution-oriented professionals. We must also be firm in the believe that we can work together intergenerationally and collaborate as professional teams to address fast changing healthcare circumstances such as expanding drug requirement, telemedicine, electronic prescribing and health data security. We need always to be persistent and uphold the high ethical and moral standards that have been handed down through the years amidst the assault of many competing ideologies.

My team and I understand that we will not be able to address all the issues impacting pharmacy. However, there are some matters which require our immediate attention. Pharmacy is a very diverse profession encompassing academia, clinical, community, commercial, manufacture and research. We appeal for more engagement from all sectors so that we can get some of the matters settled. Of major concern is the matter of ensuring that counterfeit medications do not reach our patients. Internationally partnerships between private/ public sectors, healthcare partners and legislators are seeking ways to combat the threat to health posed by the counterfeit drug trade. Here in Jamaica, PSJ supports the work of the Pharmacy Council, the MOH and organizations such as JAPPO in ensuring that all medications are of the highest standards. We encourage everyone to purchase medications from licensed pharmacies and for non- prescription medications, purchase only from establishments which protect the authenticity of the product.
My team and I will continue to work with the Pharmacy Council and organizations such as NHF and MOH to facilitate increased access to healthcare using technology such as e-prescribing while ensuring that the laws and regulations are in place to protect patient, professionals, institutions and all concerned. Our goal is to also ensure that the work done so far in negotiating with insurance providers for payment of Pharmacist services under Medication Therapy Management is completed. Pharmacists continue to make interventions which positively impact the cost of health care and to encourage more such interventions we are seeking for them to be documented as Pharmacist Services and to be properly remunerated for same.

I wish for all a productive week ahead. There are many activities all around the nation for everyone to be able to participate. Our church services to start the week are taking place in several locations. I wish to thank the Pastors and congregation for welcoming us. This afternoon we honour a pharmacy legend, The Grace Allen Young Memorial Lecture is at UTECH. Pharmacies and departments at many institutions are hosting health fairs and open days starting from tomorrow, Monday. On Tuesday Nov 20th the Induction and Awards Ceremony will take place. Thursday 22nd there will be an Open Day, the brain child of our immediate past president, Mr Ainsley Jones, at the UWI. The week closes with our annual 5K starting and ending at PSJ headquarters. If you haven’t signed up or sponsored someone yet please do so first thing tomorrow. Call the PSJ office and help us support the Kidney Kids Foundation. The Pharmacy Council also has its Pharmacy Owners seminar on the 25th. The celebration closes with the UTECH PharmD CE on Thursday November 29th 2018. Please check PSJ’s Website, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages for further information on activities to mark the week.

I use this opportunity to thank all who have contributed to the development of pharmacy, our industry partners and long list of sponsors without whom we could not have come this far. I remind us all that the work continues. We need the support of everyone. Martin Luther Jr asked the urgent question, “What are you doing for others?” I appeal especially to the younger members of the profession as I welcome the recently licensed pharmacists to give back and help to build a legacy and write our pharmacy story. Use your professional achievement to lift up someone, champion a worthy cause and effect positive changes. Let us be like the eagle, have a clear vision, keep soaring high and ride out the storms together so that we are made stronger. Mathew 12:25 tells us “Every Kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Let us stand together to build a future for pharmacy even better than any single one of us could have dreamed of or imagined. In our best President Obama’s voice, “Yes we can!” Bob Marley said “Let’s build together, One Love!”

Thank you.
Ernestine Watson
President,
Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica

About the author: Hermine Metcalfe