The practice of pharmacy -- linking chemical sciences with health sciences, compounding and dispensing medicines and pharmaceutical products for effective and safe use by patients -- is an important aspect in public health, or more specifically, in personal health. And since healthcare is first and foremost personal and parental/guardian responsibility, not much government responsibility, the skillful advice of pharmacists when to use medicines, how, at what dosage and timing, etc., or even when not to use medicines (e.g., do not take paracetamol + ibuprofen on empty stomach) is important in promoting personal healthcare.
Like other health sciences, pharmacy is both a science and a community practice. As a science, a pharmacist deals with pharmaceutical microbiology and parasitology, physical and manufacturing pharmacy, quality control, pharmaceutical biochemistry, plant chemistry, a country's medicinal plants, and so on.
As community practice, a pharmacist deals with pharmaceutical calculations, hospital/clinical/community pharmacy, dispensing and medication counseling, pharmacology, clinical toxicology, pharmaceutical jurisprudence and ethics, pharmaceutical marketing and entrepreneurship and so on.
I saw in wikipedia that there are 11 different types of pharmacy practice areas, including internet pharmacy and veterinary pharmacy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmacy.
In the Philippines, the sole national organization of these professionals is the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA, http://www.philpharmacists.org/). I am fortunate to befriend the past and current Presidents of PPhA, Ms. Normita Leyesa and Ms. Leonila "Leonie" Ocampo, respectively. I get new perspectives from them in some public health issues and debates, ranging from rational use of medicines (RUM) to pharmacy practices to Botika ng Barangay (BnB) to drug price control, among others.
The PPhA will hold their annual national convention this year at the UST in Manila. This event attracts more than 1,500 participants per year as the various lectures and networking are useful in the practice of their profession.
Last year, in the 2011 National Convention of PPhA, Leonie inivted me as one of the speakers in one of different panels, I spoke on "Patient Rights and Responsibilities: Patients/Consumers Perspective". It was the biggest crowd I ever spoke to, a big auditorium full of health professionals, a bit scary for me then :-)
On another note, the PPhA is pushing for a new Pharmacy Law. I saw one bill, the proposed "Philippine Pharmacy Act", SB 2163 authored by Sen. Francis Escudero, http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/97098332!.pdf.
The goal of such proposed legislation is to professionalize further the practice of pharmacy in the country, so that the staff who face the patients and their guardians in drugstores and pharmacies are indeed well-trained and updated about pharmacy as a science and as a community practice. This is a good objective.
But I notice that there are many strict regulations to be imposed. This can be a double-edged material for both the professionals and the public. For the former, they will be compelled to remain updated in the new knowledge about their profession. But for some small drugstores and drug outlets including those owned by the government like the BnB and Botika ng Bayan (BNB), strict and costly requirements may force them to hire unlicensed and less-trained pharmacy professionals in their drug outlets. And public health may be compromised on certain cases.
The theme this year is direct and clear, "Best pharmacy practices for quality and safety." I wish the PPhA officers and members a successful convention.
PH Pharmacists 1: Convention in Naga, April 06, 2011
PH Pharmacists 2: Patient Rights and Responsibilities, April 08, 2011