Sunday, April 06, 2008

Med Happy Pharmacists

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Last week the jumping-the-gun journo in NST reported that Doctors in Malaysia are not going to be able to dispense medication soon. The job will go to the pharmacist.

Just as I was happily dreaming about $$$, the next day the Minister from the Cursed Ministry reported that they are just starting a study on that. Doctors are still medical gods. So nada. Pharmacists in Malaysia back to counting pills and selling vitamins.

The general population in Malaysia most probably wouldn't care a cent about who will dispense their medication to them. Perhaps they even prefer the docs did it - because it is so ever convenient. Just visit the doc, wait 5 minutes after consultation, and the pretty lady in the counter will give you the meds.

Take the white one 3 times per day. Blue one 2 times per day. OK? Yes nurse. Yes doctor. Who cares what is it for and how it works? Who cares what are the side effects and risks?

Personally, I don't think that pharmacists in Malaysia is really to dispense medicines and the general public is not ready to accept them.

Why? Main reason is that Malaysians certainly do not have enough awareness of the importance of understanding their meds. I was one of them when I am still studying in Malaysia. Never cared how the meds work. Never cared what will happen if forgot to take a dose. Never cared about anything except just docilely do what the doctor asked as good as possible.

After three years studying here, it was glaringly evident that Australians are miles ahead in terms of understanding their medications and their meds. Not to generalise but they ask questions. They are well read and aware of the happenings in the  medical world. There are a lot of published guidelines and websites and support groups for different diseases and sicknesses.

Besides, in Malaysia, only doctors are deemed to have the credibility to issue meds. Doctors are the top profession there and nearly every mums and dads wanted their children to be doctors. They are respected and venerated. Who want to hear advice from a pharmacist? Pharmacists haven't command great respect from the Malaysian population yet compared to Australia. They are still known as shopkeepers who happened to sell meds. Without the respect, it wouldn't work.

Australia is a country where pharmacists dispense medicines. There act as a safety net for the patient - making sure that the medications are correct and explaining to the patient what the medications are for and what things to look out for. They are also often the first point of call when a patient is feeling sick, especially in the rural areas. They give medical advice, give meds for simple maladies and can be the close confidante of a patient.

Furthermore, there exist not a system to take care of how much a pharmacist should charge for their service, how much the government should reimburse them, how should the patient's pay etc. And then there's those people living in long houses. Will there be flying pharmacists too? These systems are not built in one day. Besides, since everyone (except the pharmacists) are quite comfortable with the current arrangement, who wants a change? It takes courage to change.

Even though I personally wished that Malaysia can have a system like Australia's, I really can't see that happening in these 10 years. However, what I can do is just to increase the awareness about the potential of pharmacies and pharmacists and hopefully start the stone rolling to eventually create the system.

1 comment:

jooshin said...

as much as u can't see the pharmacist system of Australia not happening in Malaysia for 10 years, I think I can't see Malaysia being like Australia in ALL matters within 10 years. Being exposed to various discussions with different people, I just see Malaysia being too far behind in soooooooo many things that it is almost impossible to improve. It just feels like nozirour country is in the terminal stage of cancer.