On the 25th July 2019, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Presidential Health Summit Compact at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, along with various social partners including the Minister of Health. Immediate deliverables for the South African Pharmacy Council and Pharmacy at large from the Compact are ensuring the inclusion of training in supply chain at the undergraduate level of pharmacy education and the training of practising pharmacy professionals in supply chain management. Furthermore, Heads of Pharmaceuitical Services (HoPS) should be part of department-wide budget planning to ensure sufficient budget allocation for the procurement of medicines. The Compact also directs the National Treasury to earmark funds for medicine purchases by the HoPS.
The Compact signalled the start of a reconfiguration process for the South African health system. This process leads us to the envisioned “One Country, One Health System” future reality which will be propelled by the introduction of universal healthcare coverage. According to the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, we will reach this reality in the year 2026; however, women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly will start to enjoy some health benefits from 2022. These are not the only changes facing Pharmacy; rapid technological innovation is also happening right in front of our eyes.
How we, as a profession, respond to environmental changes, particularly technological innovation introducing alternative models of medicine delivery, defines the nature of our existence within a system that incorporates such changes. When it comes to change, sheer hostility and protest have a similar outcome – disappointment. As such when faced with change, we ought to come together as a profession and chart the plans to not only adapt to change but be its catalyst so as to ensure that we ride its waves rather than be drowned by turbulence we could have controlled.
From the triumph over the medicine stamps tax of the early 1900s to the attainment of the professionalisation of the pharmacy profession in the 1970s, the pharmacy profession as a collective has achieved victories that would have not been possible had all the role players in Pharmacy worked in silos. But our forebearers in the profession understood the strength of unity and came together for the advancement of the profession to the benefit of patients.
For the current generation, one such opportunity to come together and plan as a collective is the National Pharmacy Conference. While the registration numbers have been more than overwhelming, one cannot help but notice that some of our colleagues have chosen to assume the role of spectator by not registering to attend the conference – effectively excluding themselves from participating in deliberations that seek to ensure that Pharmacy continues to be an integral part of the South African healthcare system and from learning best practise meant to improve competence, patient outcomes and compliance with Good Pharmacy Practice standards as we approach the NHI era. As such, I urge colleagues who have not yet registered to attend the 3rd National Pharmacy Conference to register by clicking here today. Space is already limited.
As usual this issue of the ePharmaciae is packed with important updates and insightful articles on the work of the South African Pharmacy Council and our practice environment.
Constitution of new Council
Following very robust Council Elections, the newly-constituted Council was announced through Board Notice 184 of 2018. The first meeting of the new Council took place on 14 February 2019 where the office bearers were elected, an article dedicated to this subject can be found here.
As the Office of the Registar, we have been equal to the task set before us by the new Council and assure the professionals that we will work diligently to deliver on both the mandate of Council and its strategic plan for the term ending 2023.
The NHI Bill
The NHI Bill was introduced to Parliament on Thursday, 8 August 2019. Paving the way for deliberations and public participation that will ensure that when universal health care is implemented it benefits all South Africans, regardless of social status and geographical location. All members of the profession are urged to actively participate in all deliberations on the Bill and rally behind the vision of “One Country, One Health System”.
Women in Pharmacy
As we publish this edition of the ePharmaciae during Women’s Month, I found myself pondering upon whether the pharmacy profession has managed to achieve sufficient gender transformation since the first democratic elections in 1994. A look at the consolidated register of all active pharmacy professionals, interns, students and learners as compiled by the Office of the Registrar indicates that we have managed to transform beyond our imagination. Of the more 43 thousand persons on the consolidated register, upwards of 60% are women. We salute all women who continue to exercise their role as medicines experts by advising both patients and colleagues in the healthcare value chain to deliver positive patient outcomes.