IMPROVING SKILLS TO COMBAT NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES BURDEN
I qualified as a pharmacist about three years ago. I am into hospital practice and weighing the options on improving my professional skills. What is your advice? I will suggest that you first do your fellowship with either the West African Post Graduate College of Pharmacist or the Ghana College of Pharmacists.
In the mid-seventies, pharmacists in the West African Region realized the need for them to come together to harmonize and develop pharmacy education, laws and practice in order to improve the quality of healthcare and the life of the people of the region. This led to the formation of the West African Pharmaceutical Federation (WAPF) in October 1976 in Monrovia, Liberia.In the process of realizing its vision, there was the need to establish a Postgraduate Professional Training Program leading to award of Fellowship in order to meet the expanding roles of pharmacists worldwide and the changing needs of the society in pharmaceutical care.
In 1991, the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP)was established under the educational mandate of WAPF. The College was officially inaugurated in Accra, Ghana in February 1991. On November 2nd, 1999, the Assembly of Health Ministers (AHM) of the then West African Health Community (WAHC) approved the change of name of WAPF to WAPCP. With this, the WAPCP became the official agency representing the pharmacy profession in WAHC. The WAHC has since been replaced by the West African Health Organization (WAHO).
The vision of WAPCP is tobe internationally recognized as a centre of excellence that promotes the teaching, research and training in postgraduate pharmacy education for the development of pharmacy specialists to meet the challenges of health care.
The mission of WAPCP is to advance postgraduate education and training in all disciplines of pharmacy for the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, skills and competency to promote and maintain a high standard of professional pharmacy practice. Fellows by Examination are pharmacists registered in any member country with at least three (3) years post-graduation on admission and who have passed the examinations and satisfied all other requirements prescribed by the College.
The WAPCP has facilitated the establishment of the School of Pharmacy in University of Liberia and University of Sierra Leone. It has facilitated the establishment of the Quality Control Laboratories in WAPCP member countries using the machinery of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other Non-Governmental Agencies. It has harmonized Drug Laws and Regulations in WAPCP member countries. It is championing pharmaceutical care in the sub-region. The programmeis designed to train aspiring specialist pharmacists in various disciplines of pharmacy to be well equipped to practice as consultants on successful completion of the programme.
The Ghana College of Pharmacists (College) was established by section 84 to 113 of Act 833, 2011. The Mandate of the College is to promote specialist training in pharmacy, and related disciplines. The College promotes continuous professional development in pharmacy and related disciplines and promotes research in pharmaceutical practice and related disciplines. The College contributes to the formulation of policies on sound health, medicines and public health in general.
The vision of the College is to be an excellent College for Specialized Pharmacy Practice for quality health care delivery. Its mission is to provide an avenue for enhanced pharmaceutical practice to the nation, through the provision of specialist training, improved trends in pharmaceutical practice and effective national policy formulation with top class motivated staff and resource persons, using contemporary facilities and equipment for quality health care delivery. The core values of the College are to promote professional education that produce high caliber pharmacists who exhibit enhanced competencies for the benefit of society.
The structure of the college programme is made up of two major courses - memberships and fellowship - and it has six faculties, namely Clinical Pharmacy, Community and Family Pharmacy, Drug and Herbal Medicine Production, Quality Assurance, Social and Administrative Pharmacy, and Public Health Pharmacy.
The minimum admission requirements are basic pharmacy qualification from a recognized Institution, proofof pharmacy internship training and successful passing of the Ghana Pharmacy Professional Qualifying Examination (GPPQE) and proof of registration as Pharmacists with at least 3 years of practice post registration.
A key feature of the fellowship programme is that it is very much practiced based. As a student, you are exposed to lecturers from diverse fields. A significant number of them are already in practice and therefore gives you the hands-on approach in solving problems. The experiences they share are real life ones. They are usually persons of high standing in their various disciplines-persons you may not ordinarily have the chance to meet one-on-one. Indeed my association with persons of high repute in society dates back to my fellowship days. The bonds have continued up until today.
The fellowship takes you through period of residency at an established institution with someone there to mentor you and assist you to navigate the stormy waters. It is much easier to combine the training with your current job.
The pioneer batch of sixteen specialist pharmacists trained at the Ghana College of Pharmacists graduated this year, 2019. Twelve of the number were admitted to the Faculty of Clinical Pharmacy while the remaining four were admitted to the Faculty of Social and Administrative Pharmacy of the college.
I picked this from the WHO desk on Africa. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. The four main types of non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (e.g. chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represent the leading cause of death globally. In 2015, NCDs were responsible for 40 million (70%) of the world's 56 million deaths, with 27% (15 million) dying prematurely (between the ages of 30 and 70). Over 80% of these premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
The WHO estimates that deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are likely to increase globally by 17% over the next 10 years, and the Africa Region will experience a 27% increase. That is 28 million additional deaths from these conditions, whichare projected to exceed deaths due to communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional diseases combined by 2030. In some African countries, such as Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles, NCDs cause over 50% of all reported adult deaths. This implies that NCDs will soon be a leading cause of ill health, disability and premature death in the Africa Region, and will have an adverse impact on socioeconomic development.
The four main risk factors for major NCDs are tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diet. These risk factors, acting singly or in combination, significantly contribute to common NCDs and related conditions.
At the graduation ceremony of pioneer batch of specialist pharmacists from the Ghana College of Pharmacists, the Minister of Health in a speech read on his behalf, among others, called on specialist pharmacists to use their enhanced skills to push down the burden and cost of non-communicable diseases.
DR. EDWARD O. AMPORFUL