International Pharmaceutical Federation Mobilizes Ebola Response

November 15, 2014
Davy James, Associate Editor

With a mission to help pharmacists throughout the world prevent the potential spread of the Ebola virus, the International Pharmaceutical Federation has launched a suite of resources to advise community pharmacists on the threat.

With a mission to help pharmacists throughout the world prevent the potential spread of the Ebola virus, the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has launched a suite of resources to advise community pharmacists on the threat.

The resources, which were specifically designed for pharmacists who work in the community sector, were compiled by an emergency task force established by the FIP after requests for guidance from its members.

“A vast amount of information is readily available, but we wanted to select and present in one place the most reliable and most relevant elements for pharmacies in a primary care context,” FIP CEO and general secretary Luc Besançon said in a press release. ”Pharmacies are often the first point of contact with the health system for patients and people with health concerns. Given the current outbreak of Ebola in some West African countries and the possibility of it spreading to other parts of the world, it is important that the whole pharmacy workforce is well informed. Being prepared is key.”

As of November 12, 2014, there have been more than 14,000 confirmed and suspected Ebola cases, with more than 5000 total deaths. Of the reported cases, more than 500 health care workers have been infected with the virus, with approximately 300 fatalities.

FIP reported several additional Ebola-related deaths among pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the affected regions.

“Pharmacists, as the first point of care for many people, have an important role to play in such emergencies, not only in terms of vigilance, but also on a wider scale such as raising awareness and knowledge and providing advice to travelers,” Besançon said.

The FIP said pharmacists can provide a crucial public health service in preventing the spread of Ebola through advising and educating their communities; promoting disease prevention and infection control; screening those who exhibit symptoms; and referring suspected cases to the appropriate health care facility.

The FIP suite of resources for pharmacists include quick guidance posters with information on all aspects of preventing the disease and a PowerPoint presentation on guidelines for pharmacists and pharmacy employees.

All of the resources are available on a dedicated webpage, www.fip.org/ebola, and FIP is currently attempting to make the materials available in different languages.

Even though the fears of a US Ebola outbreak are beginning to subside, a domestic pharmaceutical disaster response group has also prepared pharmacists with a series of resources on the virus. Rx Response has addressed the need for clear information about Ebola by developing guidelines for community and retail pharmacy staff, following a request from a major retail pharmacy chain.

“Since the outbreak, community pharmacists have been faced with the challenge of accessing reliable information as well as the risk of infection,” said Mohamed Conteh-Barrat, regulatory officer at the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, in a press release. “A key lesson we have learned is the need to ensure that correct and consistent information is made available to pharmacists in a timely manner.”