Pharmacists can play bigger role, says consumer group

1Malaysia Clinic

Malaysians tend to “eat too much” and lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Thus, the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Group Association believes pharmacists could play an important role in advising the masses regarding the importance of a well-balanced diet.

“We have to stress on prevention and not just on medication. Malaysians eat too much … at any hour of the day or night. This is so unhealthy,” said the association’s chief Datuk Nadzim Johan.

“When you have a headache, you take paracetamol. But that is only suppressing the pain. You are not solving the problem. We need to find out what is causing the headache. It’s important to get to the root of the problem.”

“People must be enlighten about eating habits. There is no point exercising if we don’t control what we eat.

“This is where pharmacists can play a role … they can advise the masses accordingly so that we can create a generation of healthy Malaysians.”

Nadzim added those living in developed nations knew when and what to eat.

“If they can do it, why can’t we?” he asked.

The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society, had in a statement recently, said pharmacists, including community pharmacists, do not just dispense medicines but can also initiate non-medical interventions.

A 2015 survey by the Health Ministry revealed many of those interviewed had hoped for additional counselling with pharmacists.

“Being a pharmacist isn’t just about dispensing medicine. Pharmacists can do so much more and help promote a healthy lifestyle,” said MPS president Amrahi Buang.

“Pharmacists can offer their professional services, like leading sessions for those intending to quit smoking. This will allow pharmacists, especially those in the public sector, to play a bigger role to serve society.”

He added such an educational role by pharmacists can be carried out at 1Malaysia clinics nationwide.

“The ministry should also consider the involvement of community pharmacists as it rebrands 1Malaysia Clinics. If the ministry decides to do away with the 1Malaysia Clinics, then the government could work out a mechanism that would see community pharmacists collaborating with general practitioners to better serve the masses.”

Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad had recently said his ministry will re-evaluate 1Malaysia clinics which could be upgraded into community clinics.

The arrival of patients to government hospitals and clinics has risen over the years. According to the Health Ministry, an average of 1.3 million patients visited 1Malaysia clinics alone each year since their inception in 2010.

The ‘National Survey On The Use of Medicines By Malaysian Consumers 2015’, which involved 3,081 consumers nationwide, showed that despite extensive use of pharmaceuticals:

  • ·       18.6 per cent did not fully understand the proper use of their medicines.
  • ·       46.8 per cent were unable to identify the trade or generic names of their medicines.
  • ·       17.0 per cent had no knowledge on proper medicine storage.
  • ·       29.7 per cent were unaware of common side effects of their medicines.
  • ·       31.6 per cent were clueless on the possible interactions between traditional and modern medicines.

The study found 70.8 per cent of consumers wanted additional counselling sessions with pharmacists in order to understand and overcome problems pertaining to their medicines.

On a separate matter, Amrahi hoped the government will reveal the contents of the proposed Pharmacy Bill.

“We’ve not heard anything about the Pharmacy Bill since September last year. Is the government going to proceed with it or not?” asked Amrahi.

“We are also unsure what is stated in the Bill and will only know once it is brought to Parliament,” he added.

Amrahi said the last official statement regarding the proposed Pharmacy Bill was made in September 2017.