Pharmacists gearing up for enhanced role under UHC law

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DAVAO CITY — Pharmacists are preparing for an enhanced role in the health sector following the recent passage of the Universal Health Care law, of Republic Act No. 11223, which calls for the establishment of Botika Ng Barangay (BNB) outlets nationwide.

The Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPA), which is holding its annual national convention this week in the city, said it is focusing on expanding their members’ role, in both practice and public perception, from being just dispensers of medicine.

“For a long time, that the role of pharmacists in the Philippines did not expand. Now the organization is really active in bringing back the energy among the pharmacy group to fulfill our true role in health care, especially with the opening of BNBs,” PPA Board of Trustee Maria Gilda S. Saljay, speaking in mixed Filipino and English, told the media earlier this week.

BNB is a program under the Department of Health (DoH)-Center for Health and Development that aims to provide easier access to medicines for the marginalized by setting up pharmacies in communities.

“This a DoH-funded initiative in relation to universal health care where one has access to medicines. BNB is a new model of pharmacy practice,” she said.

Each BNB is to be managed by a community organization, non-government organization, and the local government unit, with a trained operator and a supervising pharmacist.

Ms. Saljay said pharmacists can do drug and patient profiling as well as patient counselling.

“It has already started in other areas of the country. When we dispense drugs, automatically we counsel the patient, and the patient can always ask the pharmacists about the medication,” she said.

“We go beyond what you see (on the drug labels). We encourage patients to look for the pharmacists every time you want to know more about your medicines,” she added. — Maya M. Padillo