Achievements to date
Inevitably, the main challenge is to link needs to offers. This has been successful with books with important donations of drug information reference books from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). ASHP provides the American Hospital Formulary Drug Information (AHF-DI), a major reference book, to all those registered with Pharmabridge from developing countries, as well as has provided a number of bulk book donations. Over 8000 copies of immediate past editions of ASHP books have been delivered to pharmacy schools in need. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) offers a number of current reference books every year and Current Contents and the Merck Company have also donated a number of publications. Several US chapters of IPSF regularly forward books and journals to pharmacy schools and individuals, one example being the School of Pharmacy of Ohio Northern University (Ohio Northern Students "Bridge" the Resource Gap, AACP News, December 2002 the programme stopped in 2007 due to faculty change but remains a good example of student involvement). In addition, individual pharmacists send on books and journals, some on a regular basis, under a partnership with a pharmacist in a developing country.
As for practice exposure, the first clinical pharmacy training visit was by an Indian pharmacist that went to the USA in 2002. This was followed by training visits by pharmacists (mostly pharmacy teachers and hospital pharmacists) usually lasting 4 weeks from Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Peru. They went to Canada, Finland, the UK and the US. An Ethiopian and two Nigerian pharmacists have also been to Ghana as Pharmabridge is aiming to promote South-South collaboration/exchanges. As of May 2012, 41 pharmacists from developing countries have been placed and received international practice exposure/training. Some of the experiences have been published such as: Pharmabridge experience, Info-Link Numbers 22 & 23 2002, pp. 2-3, Pharmabridge Links Pharmacists from Developing Countries with U.S. Sites AJHP Journal, February 1, 2008, AJHP News and Pharmabridge makes dreams come true, The Pharmaceutical Journal 2011; 287: 746 ."
Pharmabridge has also promoted and connected experts with developing country participants to provide group training. For example a US expert has carried out GMP workshops in Sri Lanka (course pamphlet page 1 and 2), Nigeria, Mongolia and Ghana.Another US expert has run seminars on pharmacotherapeutics in Nepal and Nigeria.
Some of the above training activities are continuing under bilateral links.
Quite a number of contacts for exchange of information have been established between pharmacists interested in specific subjects. Applicants have been provided with reference to relevant WHO publications and activities and other advice.
Pharmacists planning visits abroad have been linked up with pharmacists in the countries to be visited. Thus pharmacists from the US, Canada, the UK have been provided with contact addresses in India, Thailand, Vietnam and African and Central and South American countries. An Israeli pharmacist was enabled to visit hospital pharmacy settings in the Netherlands and in the UK, the latter resulting in a twinning relationship ( Pharmabridge: Report of a professional visit, FIP HPS News 2003, pp. 3-4). Contacts have been provided to visit specific practice settings in connection with FIP Congresses.
There is still need for more sponsorship to match the many needs, particularly in the area of training and practice exposure, that have been identified. Needs lists can be requested from the Pharmabridge Coordinator.
Contacts between pharmacists in developed and developing countries can be an enriching experience, both professionally and personally and can contribute to the bridging of the information gap between countries. Help bridge the gap - become a part of the Pharmabridge Project.
To read more about the achievements of the Pharmabridge, read the latest FIP congress presentation here.