Help Your Pharmacist, Help You

By Roslyn A Douglas, MA
Founder of Central Health-Grenada

It is very important that a person who is on a medication regimen to control a chronic illness such as diabetes, have a good relationship with his/her pharmacist. This was the general sentiment expressed during a recent public forum organized by the Grenada Pharmacies Association and the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists, in conjunction with the Grenada Diabetes Association.

The event which was held on 19 August 2014 at the Public Workers Union at Tanteen, St George’s, was part of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists annual convention outreach health education targeting patients with chronic non communicable diseases.

Local Grenadian pharmacist Brian James served as moderator for the lively forum which included distinguished health care professionals and health leaders such as Dr Alister Antoine — Vice President of the Grenada Diabetes Association (GDA); Lydia Duncan — President of the Grenada Association of Pharmacist; Dr Francis Martin — Director of Primary Health Care of the Ministry of Health; Yvonne Reid — President of the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists (CAP); and Endocrinologist Dr Sebastian Peter. Testimonies from two male diabetics Alexander Smith, and Francis Balwant who serves as Treasurer for the GDA, added a human touch to the discussion, as they shared their journey of how they got diagnosed with diabetes and how they manage their glucose (sugar) levels daily with medication and/or insulin.

According to the President of CAP Yvonne Reid, the forum birthed out of a desire to have an outreach activity into the communities — “About three of four years or so ago, public education activity became a focus of our convention, because we felt it was important to have an outreach in the communities where the local pharmacists can reach the community. And, also to show trends of what the profession can do when others from other parts of the Caribbean come together to collaborate.”

pillsIn keeping with the goal of the public forum/community outreach lead by pharmacists, the real meat of the forum came from an interactive presentation lead by Barbadian Pharmacists Cheryl Ann Yearwood. She gave some practical advice to the diabetics present on how they can have a good working relationship with their pharmacists and the importance of that partnership. “The pharmacist helps you by filling your prescription; by giving you information on your medication; by liaising with your physician about your medication — about how often you have been taking it.” Yearwood went on to say that the pharmacists is available to thoroughly explain to patients how their medicines should be taken. For example, information provided may include but not limited to clarifying if the tablet needs to be taken with or without food, during a meal or directly after a meal and side effects.

Yearwood posited that many times for various reasons patients switch doctors and do not share with their new doctor the medicine regimen that they are currently on. This is why according to Yearwood all attendees who are on a pill regimen need to keep track of the names of the medication; the number of times it must be taken a day; how it must be taken, and share that information will the new doctor and any other specialist seen. Failure to do so can lead to many problems such as over-dosage. If the new doctor, for example, gives the patient the exact same medication the previous doctor prescribed and unbeknownst to the patient the brand name may be different and the patient takes both pills — this could lead to serious consequences. “This is why it is important that you see one pharmacist. Visit one pharmacist for all your medication, so that they can have a database of information on your medication. They can have your medication history,” said Yearwood.

In part of her closing remarks Yearwood gave advice on what patients can do to help their pharmacists effectively do their job, “You can learn about your medication. You [should] know what you are taking. Don’t go to the pharmacists and tell them, I take the big white tablet.”

The theme for this year’s convention was, “Shaping Our Profession With One mission and One Voice.” Over 100 delegates from the Caribbean, the Unites States, Canada, Latin, North and South America attended the conference, which included networking opportunities, and continuing education lectures.

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