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Tribune News Network
AROUND 6,000 prescriptions are processed and 750 patients receive medicines at home on a daily basis during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Head of Pharmacy and Therapeutics Supply at Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) Dr Mahmoud Al Mahmoud has revealed.
Mahmoud emphasised that the role of pharmacists during the pandemic has, however, been much more than just dispensing medications to the patients. “Their responsibilities have increased and they have been playing major role in protecting the health and well-being of patients during the pandemic,” he remarked.
“The highly qualified pharmacists at the hospitals and health centres in Qatar have worked tirelessly during the pandemic and their expertise has helped deal with cases during the past few months,” Mahmoud added. According to Dr Mahmoud, pharmacists are integral to providing healthcare to patients and help speed up the recovery process, as they ensure that the medicines are given in an appropriate dose and at right frequencies.
The role of pharmacists at the Intensive and Medical Care Units include reviewing test results, especially liver and kidney tests, and adjusting the correct doses for each patient to ensure it does not adversely affect their health. They are also responsible for reviewing chronic diseases medicines in order to avoid drug interaction or reactions, to ensure a patient’s condition is stable, and dispensing accurate measurement of doses of highly toxic medicines.
Dr Mahmoud said, “Pharmacists have a vital role in the health system and are the cornerstone of the therapeutic and preventive work team. They provide and control medicines and monitor the medication stock as they prepare, review and audit prescriptions ensuring they are consistent with the safety conditions.
“Furthermore, they deliver medicines to patients directly or via the home delivery service and educate them on the appropriate use of medicines, and on COVID-19 updates as well as the precautionary regulations and measures followed at the health centre.”
With regards to the hurdles faced by PHCC’s health centres during COVID-19, he said, “This pandemic has crossed all borders and interrupted communication between people. We have witnessed closures of airports and borders, whether for travelling or transportation of goods, including medications.
“However, this caused only temporary disruption in supply of certain medications in Qatar. Given our existing medication stock, with some rationing in the policy of dispensing medicines, and by resorting to alternative medicines, we have managed to ensure there is no shortage.”
According to Dr Mahmoud, each patient has his own condition, circumstances and treatment depending on how severe or mild the symptoms are. Overall, the most used medicines are fever reducing medicines, vitamin C, cough medicines, decongestants, sinus medications and certain types of antibiotics which only mitigate symptoms, but do not cure the infection itself.
He said that their focus was also on protecting pharmacists and pharmacy workers from COVID-19 infection through ensuring compliance with precautionary measures and educating the staff.
Dr Mahmoud said that the PHCC is collaborating with Qatar Post to deliver medicines to patients’ homes, adding that they have received very positive feedback from people regarding the service.
“We have highly qualified pharmaceutical manufacturers that meet international standards, but only cover a small proportion of Qatar’s needs. The good news is they are working on increasing supplies and varieties,” Dr Mahmoud added.
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