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Oct 27, 2006

Pharmacists Assoc.: We need more professionals

Story PictureEarlier in this newscast, we reported on the efforts of the Belize Medical and Dental Association to improve service to the public. This week, another similar organization is marking an important milestone as it strives to create public interest in its profession. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports on the life of the pharmacist.

Adelita Ghazy, President, Pharmacists Association of Belize
?Pharmacy as a career is one of the best and most rewarding and fulfilling career you could take. Because you get to meet with the patient, you?re the patient advocate, you interact with other members of the health care team, you decide, okay this patient is on this medication and maybe you could try this one if they are not responding to this one. You are the professional that accessible to that patient, the patient has confidence in you when they come to you.?

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
There are currently a hundred and six registered pharmacists practicing in the country, but according Adelita Ghazy, President of the Pharmacists Association of Belize, that number is not nearly enough.

Adelita Ghazy
?Even with the U.B. programme we are having a shortage because the number that?s coming out is not sufficient to meet the demand that?s there. The number that would come out would range between five to six maybe ten the most we would have graduating in a year, which as soon as they come out they are being absorbed into the system, into the society.?

Established in the 1950?s, the Pharmacist Association of Belize became a legal body in 1992. Besides representing the interest of pharmacists, the organisation also protects the public.

Adelita Ghazy
?We?re also there if there is any problem with the community and a patient and a pharmacist. The association is an independent body that investigates whatever should arise. We try to have pictures of the pharmacists so if there is any query, we can say, ?is this the pharmacist?? And we will investigate to see and resolve the issue. One of the things that the association has been trying to do has been to get the bill, the current laws, try to get it enforced and get it updated.?

Ghazy says that by law, all drug dispensing establishments should display a certificate citing who is the licensed pharmacist. As an added security, the association is also implementing photo identification cards for the professionals.

Adelita Ghazy
?Upon graduating from the University of Belize, in order to legally practice in Belize, they have to sit a board exam that?s set by the Ministry of Health. Upon passing this exam, then they register at the registry and then they are legally licensed to practice in Belize.?

And while you might think that all a pharmacist does is fill prescriptions, Ghazy says there is a lot more to the profession.

Adelita Ghazy
?Besides dispensing drugs we provide counselling, we provide information and guidance for the physicians. We also review what medications they are getting to make sure that it?s at the right dose, at the right interval and the right patients is receiving it. We also do research in terms of the new medication coming on board. We should be able to identify counterfeit as opposed to the approved drugs, so we have very many different roles besides dispensing. The profession has moved away from just dispensing, we are more into the therapeutic care of the patient.?

It was that aspect of the job that appealed to Stephanie Lambey.

Stephanie Lambey, Pharmacists, K.H.M.H.
?I had always had an interest in medicine growing up as a child and seeing my sister, who is my role model being a nurse, I became a pharmacist. I have always wanted to save lives, medicine has always been of great interest to me.?

Lambey, a pharmacist for three years, is a graduate of the U.B. programme. She says the field is both demanding and rewarding.

Stephanie Lambey
?It?s very challenging and very demanding because like you said, medication comes out everyday, every hour, every minute, so you as the pharmacist need to keep updated. Because patients are out there, they want to know you need to give you patients? knowledge about the medications they are taking. I keep updated, I go on the internet everyday, doctors would call, ask you about different medications, you as a pharmacist need to give him information that he needs. So you need to keep updated, go on the internet, you read. At the end of the day the patient feels good, they come to you, they ask you questions about your medication, you have that great knowledge and that?s very rewarding to see your patient smiling, feeling better after they?ve taken their medication.?

Tonight the Pharmacy Association will be celebrating the addition of seven pharmacists to the field with a ceremony at the Princess Hotel.

Adelita Ghazy
?The event tonight is really a milestone for us because it is the first time we are having it, and it is the first time that we have been able to show that we have pharmacists here in Belize and that we are a profession.?

And apparently, pharmacy is a profession that pays.

Kendra Griffith
?You get paid decently though??

Stephanie Lambey
?Yes. Well for me, yes. It?s good.?

Kendra Griffith
?Enough to entice other people into the field??

Stephanie Lambey
?Yeah … and trust me, it will get better.?

Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

The Pharmacists Association says they are working on getting an office, but in the meantime officials can be contacted at P.O. Box 2597 or pharmassoc@hotmail.com.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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