On the occasion of World Pharmacists Day, Abhay Kumar, President, Indian Pharmacists Association (IPA) speaks on various issues faced by pharmacists in India and elaborates on the role of the association in overcoming those challenges
Brief us on the role of pharmacists in India. How is it different from the western countries?
Pharmacists play a vital role in the healthcare system in India. Pharmacists in India are broadly divided into three different categories hospital pharmacists, pharmacists working in private sector as community pharmacist and pharmacists working in the pharmaceutical industry. Although pharmacists in India provide services at various levels in healthcare, they are less recognised and less paid. On the other hand, pharmacists in the western countries have better recognisation and status in the health sector than their Indian counterparts.
What are the challenges faced by Indian pharmacists? How IPA helps pharmacists in overcoming these challenges?
The major challenge faced by pharmacists in India is recognisation. The service provided by pharmacists at various capacities goes unnoticed. There are many burning issues like cadre formation, promotional channel, grade pay and recruitment under government establishment, job security, pay and working environment in private establishment.
IPA, ever since its inception has been trying to bring together all the pharmacists and pharmacy associations under its umbrella, as I believe that an unified voice is required to cater to all the major issues being faced by pharmacist fraternity today. The association is working on the grade pay, cadre formation and promotional avenues. There has been very little scope for pharmacy graduates. We have been representing the government at various levels to accommodate this vast pool of professionals for their ambitious projects like rural health/ community health programmes. Taking serious note on our demands, the government in its national health policy has incorporated pharmacists as one of the professionals to be trained for handling patients at the primary levels.
Tell us about the current issues on which IPA is working. What are the steps taken to help pharmacists in remote area?
IPA is currently looking for the permanent recruitment of various posts of pharmacists lying vacant or are filled on contract basis. There is discrimination in pay scale of pharmacists in different states and even in organisations like railways, paramilitary forces and other agencies. Establishment of Drugs Control Department in every state is high on our agenda. The implementation of Pharmacy Practice Regulation – PPR, which came into existence in 2015, is also in the pipeline.
Tell us about the government’s contribution in uplifting pharmacists within the country?
Government can still do a lot for the betterment of pharmacy profession at large. Creation and filling up of vacant posts, strengthening of central and state drug control department, making it mandatory for every medicine shop to have full time pharmacists are few basic expectations from the government. Creation of pharmacy cell in Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, involving pharmacist in national health programme and cadre formation with promotional avenues are few of the points on which IPA is awaiting response from the government.
In 2015, IPA had two new branches in Bihar and Andaman and Nicobar. Tell us about your further expansion plans.
We have expanded in Rajasthan, Bihar, Delhi Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, as our own branches or associated with existing local association. At present, IPA is the largest association of pharmacists in India. Soon, we will have our presence across the country.
The theme of World Pharmacists Day 2017 is ‘From research to health care: Your pharmacist is at your service.’ Your comments.
Precisely this year’s theme ‘From research to health care: Your pharmacist is at your service’ could be called as the entire process involved where pharmacists’ talent and calibre is deliberated. Right from the molecular level where the drugs are designed and developed in laboratory until it is dispensed to the patient, the essentiality of the pharmacist is acknowledged.
What is your message to the pharmacists?
The pharmacy profession is at a revolutionary phase at present. We need to stand together for the betterment of pharmacist fraternity. I wish best of luck to the aspiring pharmacists who are studying and are unemployed. I wish to extend my warm greetings to all my colleagues with the request to give their best in terms of professional skills and knowledge they have to the patients.