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“Health care can no longer be separated from social issues,” said Dr Carmen Peña, President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation, at the opening of the 76th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences today in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pharmacists and other health care professionals need to be more concerned with continuity, integration of processes and socio-health coordination, which is an important but often forgotten role of community pharmacies, she said.
Dr Peña used her opening address to focus on people — patients and health care professionals. “People” is one of the three areas in her “Two times two” plan for pharmacy. “Today’s patients have new demands. New needs. They are increasing in number and age. Many of our health systems were created in the 20th century for a society of patients with acute illnesses, but nowadays we live in a society of patients with chronic illnesses, many of whom require polymedication,” she said.
This new profile demands new areas of action from pharmacists in terms of home care as well as health care. Self-care and non-prescription medicines also deserve greater attention in this new era of health care, she added.
Dr Peña called for policies that enable cooperation and care coordination between health care professionals, with respect for their various functions, for the benefit of patients. But she also said that fostering trust, improving communication and sharing information should include non-health professionals, such as hospital managers, lawyers and economists, all of whom are essential to building a new concept of health care.
Dr Peña gave particular mention to clinical records. Patients should be the ones to decide the extent to which information is shared among health professionals, empowering them to look after their own health.
“We need to rethink health care. We need to break down barriers and prevent patients from getting lost in labyrinths of specialties and bureaucracy. The system should follow patients, rather than patients following the system,” she said.