Disasters like major storms, earthquakes, wildfires, and terrorist actions happen. Pharmacists should have plans in place that allow them to respond when these emergencies occur and to provide aid to others, according to a Statement of Policy from the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). FIP is holding its annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea, this week.
“Just last month we’ve had a large typhoon in Hong Kong, a monsoon in Bangladesh, and Hurricane Harvey in the U.S., followed by devastating floods and many lives lost,” said Jane Dawson, Secretary of the Military and Emergency Pharmacy Section for FIP. “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.”
All pharmacists should create a risk assessment and management plan so that the effect of a disaster on pharmacy services is minimized, according to the FIP statement: “As members of the health care team, pharmacists have two significant responsibilities related to disaster management. The first is to prepare for the possibility of disaster. The second is, in times of emergency, to respond according to their expertise to help the population receive the best health care possible in the situation.”
In July 2016, FIP released a report, “Responding to Disasters: Guidelines for Pharmacy,” that provides guidance for what actions government, hospital, and community pharmacy should take to prevent, prepare for, or respond to a natural or man-made disaster. The guidelines were developed with input from pharmacists who have been through emergency situations. “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,” Dawson said.
“Governments need to consider the law and standards—do they have emergency provisions—pharmacy organizations 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 recognize that they should prepare in advance so they can cope in an emergency situation,” Dawson said.