The world is currently wrestling the COVID-19 pandemic, with South Africa having reported more than 6 000 coronavirus-related deaths at the time of writing this. I encourage all of us within the profession to ensure that we continue to take precautions to protect ourselves, our patients and families from infection. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the Registrar issued infection prevention guidelines to the profession and all Council stakeholders – these were later confirmed and superseded by the Department of Health’s COVID-19 infection prevention and control guidelines. Council has developed a COVID-19 Resource Page for the profession, which may be accessed at www.sapc.za.org/covid; I encourage you to keep checking this page for Pharmacy-relevant guidelines and information as we continue to tackle this pathogen.
Council has resolved to allow erased pharmacy professionals who would like to serve in the fight against COVID-19 to be restored temporarily without paying restoration fees. This restoration will be provided as a temporary measure and will revert to an erasure following a period to be determined by Council once the battle against COVID-19 has been won. I encourage colleagues who had left the calling for other pursuits to return to the frontline as there is strength in numbers.
Updates from the Ministry of Health have continued to indicate that, despite not having a scientifically proven cure for COVID-19, our country has continued to record one of the lowest death rates in the entire world and our recovery rate is around 50% of active cases. For this, I would like to salute all colleagues at the frontline who are ensuring patients have access to medicine and expert advice on their effective and efficient usage. Pharmacy professionals’ close collaboration with other healthcare practitioners is more crucial now than before. I am encouraged by the progress which has been made both in South Africa and the world over, with regard to the on-going research to find a vaccine to this deadly pathogen.
National Pharmacy Conference
The 3rd National Pharmacy Conference (NPC) was a rallying cry for all in Pharmacy and our allied industries and professions to put all hands on deck and work towards South Africa’s Health Vision 2030. This vision, according to the National Development Plan (NDP), entails a life expectancy at birth of 70 years, a largely HIV-free generation of under-20s, significant reduction in infant mortality, and health care being universally accessible to all.
The themes and sub-themes of all deliberations at the 3rd NPC were centred on achieving a 2030 wherein the NDP vision for health is realised, the pharmacy profession is capacitated to be equal to the task at hand given operational environment and technological advancements of the time, and ensuring that the pharmacy professional, as a medicines expert, is fully utilised by peers in the health care team to ensure definite therapeutic outcomes for patients.
Universal health care coverage
South Africa’s journey to universal health care coverage, as called for in the Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the NDP, appears to proceed unhindered. The Health Portfolio Committee of the South African Parliament concluded the first phase of its public participation process for the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in February 2020. It is my hope that all colleagues participated fully in this process to ensure that the implementation of universal health care coverage is done in such a manner that the South African public can enjoy access to a full spectrum of pharmaceutical services without financial hindrance, no matter who and where they are in the country.