Pharmacists must be part of Health White Paper
Published on: Sunday, September 11, 2022
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Credit: drugtopics.com
THE Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) would like to express its gratitude to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin for initiating the Health White Paper (HWP) with the aim of making our healthcare system more sustainable and resilient.

However, we are disappointed that the 13-member HWP advisory council announced on Aug 30 does not involve pharmacy practice and policy experts.

The ministry’s media release stated that it intends to ensure the HWP is holistic, comprehensive and inclusive. 

However, without a member with pharmacy practice and policy expertise, there is a legitimate concern that the council’s output may not be “holistic, comprehensive and inclusive”.

We consider not including the role of pharmacists in the equation the very antithesis of progressive healthcare in Malaysia.

Pharmacists are major contributors in both the public and private healthcare sectors. From the preliminary steps of medicine development, right to the final steps of post-marketing surveillance of drug safety, pharmacists are valuable, trusted and needed players in the healthcare industry.

In Malaysia, pharmacists contribute in the following fields/services: Research and development of drugs, regimes and formulations; clinical research pertaining to pharmacotherapy; quality control and assurance of pharmaceutical products; monitoring import and registration of pharmaceutical products, supplements and cosmetics; formulating marketing and distribution strategies for pharmaceutical products; developing and enforcing all pharmacy- related policies and regulations; clinical collaborative decision- making with specialists and doctors in treating patients; advocating and ensuring medication safety; educating patients and caregivers on using medications correctly; managing minor ailments, weight management, wound care and skin conditions; advocating public health policies and measures, including smoking cessation services and vaccination; providing standard pharmacy education, training and experiential learning for pharmacy students; regulating the approval of new pharmacy institutions and training premises; and ensuring continuity of medical care during warfare and emergency situations.

These roles clearly show our contribution in settings such as hospitals, primary healthcare facilities, community pharmacies, manufacturing and non-manufacturing pharmaceutical industries, academia, clinical research centres, pharmaceutical services and enforcement divisions in the Health Ministry, and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.

In fact, from a patient’s perspective, a huge chunk of their healthcare expenditure is on medicines. Therefore, for the HWP to gain bipartisan support, medicine experts, ie pharmacists, must be invited to the table.

To that end, MPS conducted a pharmacy stakeholder meeting in July to discuss the HWP and the role that pharmacists can play. The meeting included pharmacists from private and public (primary, secondary and tertiary) sectors, industry and the Health Ministry.

The following five reforms were identified and submitted to the ministry:

> Equitable access and continuity of care.

> New care models with emphasis on prevention, primary care and community empowerment.

> Sustainable healthcare funding and strategic purchasing.

> Systemic structural improvements.

> Establishment of autonomous bodies to monitor reforms.

Based on the above and the minister’s assurance that the HWP would encompass all Malaysians, the HWP advisory council should include experts in pharmacy practice and policy to achieve its aim of providing holistic, comprehensive and inclusive healthcare that is of high quality, sustainable and future-proof.

Amrahi Buang 


Malaysian Pharmacists Society

- The views expressed here are the views of the writer Amrahi Buang and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

- If you have something to share, write to us at: [email protected]

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