Pharmacists have an ethical duty to provide aid in the event of natural and man-made disasters and should have strategies in place to respond appropriately when these events strike, according to a new Statement of Policy from the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

The statement, Role of the pharmacist in disaster management, recommends that pharmacies carry out a risk assessment and management plan to ensure any effect of disasters on the normal delivery of pharmacy services is minimised.

Jane Dawson, secretary of FIP’s Military and Emergency Pharmacy Section, pointed to the rising number of natural disasters over the past decade, adding that with global warming, “such events are predicted not only to become more frequent but to increase in severity.”

‘Our patients need us’

Plan for when disaster strikes

“We pharmacists need to be prepared,” Mrs Dawson said. “It’s no good waiting until something happens to sort out how you’re going to manage. Our patients will need us to provide their medicines and give advice in what will be a very stressful situation.”

The statement follows the July 2016 release of FIP’s document Responding to disasters: Guidelines for pharmacy, which sets out actions that hospital and community pharmacy, as well as other stakeholders, should take to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

Prepare in advance

“Governments need to consider the law and standards – do they have emergency provisions – pharmacy organisations should be advocates for and support members in emergency planning, the supply chains and distributors need to plan how to deliver when disaster strikes and, most importantly, all pharmacists need to recognise that they should prepare in advance so they can cope in an emergency situation,” Mrs Dawson said.

She added: “FIP’s Responding to disaster guidelines were developed based on the experiences of pharmacists who have provided services during previous emergencies. In this new statement, FIP makes clear that our profession must be prepared and can use FIP’s guidelines to help them to do so.”

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