Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

The WHO UNESCO FIP Pharmacy Education Taskforce: Enabling Concerted and Collective Global Action

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

The WHO UNESCO FIP Pharmacy Education Taskforce: Enabling Concerted and Collective Global Action

Article excerpt

Keywords: international pharmaceutical education

Pharmacy Education is a priority area for the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), the global federation representing pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists worldwide that is spearheading the Global Pharmacy Education Taskforce. This paper describes the work of the Taskforce that was established in March 2008, explores key issues in pharmacy education development, and describes the Global Pharmacy Action Plan 20082010.

Given the significance of pharmacy education to the diverse practice of contemporary pharmacists and pharmacy support personnel, there is a need for pharmacy education to attain greater visibility on the global human resources for health agenda. From this perspective, FIP is steering the development of holistic and comprehensive pharmacy education and pharmacy workforce action to support and strengthen regional, national, and local efforts.

The role of a global organization such as FIP is to facilitate, catalyze, and share efforts to maximize pharmacy education development and stimulate international research to develop guidance, tools, and better understanding of key issues. To achieve this goal, FIP has (1) established a formal collaborative partnership with the 2 United Nations agencies representing the education and health sectors, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World

Health Organization (WHO); and (2) established the Global Pharmacy Education Taskforce to serve as the coordinating body of these efforts. The initial effort will serve to leverage strategic leadership and maximize the impact of collective actions at global, regional, and national levels. Three project teams have been convened to conduct research, consultations and develop guidance in the domains of vision for pharmacy education, competency, quality assurance, academic workforce, and institutional capacity.

BACKGROUND

Pharmacists in many countries are too few in number and trained at a critically insufficient scale. (1) WHO estimates a current shortage of more than 4 million health care workers. (2) Fifty-seven countries fall below the WHO threshold of 2.5 health care professionals per 1000 population, which has a negative effect on health outcomes and forms a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. While much of the evidence relates to physicians, nurses, and midwives, it is widely recognized that unless human resource shortages and imbalances are tackled in the pharmacy workforce as well, any attempts to improve health systems and access to and appropriate use of medicines will be undermined. (3) There are marked imbalances in the distribution of the pharmacy workforce globally, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the size of the country represents the country's share of the pharmacy workforce. (4)

For many communities, the pharmacist is the most accessible or sole provider of healthcare advice and services. Pharmacists and pharmacy support personnel are willing, competent, and cost-effective providers of public health and pharmaceutical care interventions. Internationally, there is wide acknowledgement of the underutilization of the pharmacy workforce for public health roles. (5-8)

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The provision of pharmacy services in each country revolves around two workforce needs: (1) an appropriately trained pharmacy workforce to provide services, and (2) a competent and committed academic workforce to train sufficient numbers of new pharmacists and other pharmacy support personnel. These in turn depend on suitably resourced academic institutions composed of sufficient numbers of students who have the necessary intellectual and emotional competence to practice.

The 2006 World Health Report calls for more research and evaluation on the development of education and training, acknowledging that scaling up of education and training cannot rely on expanding existing institutions alone. …

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