Message from the President
Prof Manoranjenni (Mano) Chetty – President
The year 2016 has been very eventful for our profession.
Before I consider the year’s activities and achievements, allow me first to express our delight over a noteworthy highlight of the year, the hugely successful 2nd National Pharmacy Conference, hosted by us, under the theme ‘Shaping the Future’.
In October, more than 1 000 pharmacists from all disciplines converged on the Durban International Convention Centre to reunite with peers, exchange ideas, and deliberate on new and innovative approaches to improve future pharmaceutical services and care for the people of our country.
Among the distinguished speakers were the Minister of Health (who received a standing ovation for his talk that was both informative and entertaining), the Minister of Finance (a pharmacist, who addressed the conference via video) and the Deputy Director-General for Health (a pharmacist).
International speakers from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and our neighbouring countries shared their experiences and ideas with us. Plenary and break-away sessions were interesting, thought provoking and invited active discussion. During the next few months, Council will be implementing plans in response to the recommendations that emerged from the discussions. We thank you all for your interest and participation in the conference.
Shortages and stock outs
On a more serious note, of major concern in 2015 was the shortage of pharmaceutical supplies, especially at our public health facilities. A significant improvement in this situation was seen during 2016 and we applaud our colleagues at the National Department of Health (NDoH) who introduced new procedures to minimise the out-of-stock situations. A further boost that improved access to medicines in our disadvantaged communities came from the innovative modes of delivery of chronic medicines, also initiated by the NDoH. The new modes not only comply with Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) guidelines, but represent a change in conventional thinking and make it possible for us to extend the reach of our pharmaceutical services. In view of the changing demands on the profession in our country it is imperative we adopt more creative and effective methods of service delivery and care while ensuring adherence to GPP.
New qualifications and training
Globally, there has been a call for pharmacists to play a more significant role in pharmaceutical care and pharmaceutical development and manufacture, with the more routine tasks being delegated to pharmacy support personnel. It is hoped that the new specialist qualifications and the change in the training and qualifications of pharmacy support personnel will assist our pharmacists in achieving this.
Pharmacy and the NHI
The Department of Health provided more clarity on the future role of pharmacists in the National Health Insurance plan, although remuneration models are still under discussion. The SAPC would like to encourage pharmacists to play a proactive role in seeking accreditation to contribute to the healthcare team in their area. The challenge to pharmacists to service the vast rural and underserviced areas in the country continues and it is hoped that pharmacists will develop innovative methods of addressing this situation in 2017.
Help to minimise antimicrobial resistance
The international appeal for pharmacists and other healthcare personnel to monitor antibiotic prescribing and usage, in view of the widespread resistance to many antibiotics, was acutely emphasised in 2016. The incidence of resistance has increased and in South Africa we have the additional burden of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV. Drastic measures to change attitudes and practices by prescribers and pharmacists are required. Please make this a priority for 2017.
Customer care line
We acted on unfavourable reports about the customer care line at the Office, a concern that has disturbed Council for a while, by appointing an external group to conduct a work-study of the situation and advise the Office on how to improve the facility. In addition, a task team of Councillors was assigned to work with the group to effect the recommended changes. We are committed to improving the customer care experience in 2017.
The national #FeesMustFall crisis and disruptions in classes posed a serious concern for Council. The principle of access to higher education for all academically deserving students who are unable to afford it needs to be addressed. In so saying, however, the SAPC does not condone violence and destruction of facilities associated with centres of learning. Failure to complete an academic year by any group of pharmacy students can have serious consequences on a profession that currently has a shortfall in numbers compared with the population that has to be serviced. Annual fees for this sector of pharmacy will not be increased in 2017.
Monitoring and evaluation
A team of pharmacists and academics that are not frequently acknowledged for their important role in monitoring and maintaining our high standards in the practice and training of pharmacists are those that perform accreditation visits to training institutions and pharmacies. We are grateful to all those individuals for their time and dedication to assisting the SAPC with this key function of monitoring.
Staff at the Office of the Registrar
We wish to express our gratitude to the team in the Office of the Registrar for their dedication to serving the pharmacy profession. This year required additional effort and longer working hours to effectively complete the usual SAPC organisational tasks and also to ensure that the conference plans were effectively implemented.
On behalf of the Councillors, I would like to thank the profession for the support during 2016.
Best wishes for the festive period!