IPA moves letter with Health Ministry to train pharmacists as COVID-19 vaccinators
New Delhi: The Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) along with the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) is gearing up for the training program of Community pharmacies and pharmacists to support the Government's COVID-19 vaccine drive across the country.
The association has plans to conduct an online training program and aiming to train around two lakh pharmacists as COVID-19 vaccinators by the end of February 2021.
Recently, in a joint representation made by the IPA and FIP to Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, to enact the enabling legislation allowing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
In its letter, it mentioned "Community pharmacies and pharmacists are now at the disposal of our population and health authorities to facilitate a quick, safe and fully professional mass vaccination strategy against COVID-19, flu and other vaccine-preventable diseases. In at least 36 countries, pharmacists already play an active role in administering vaccinations, while this has been proposed or is undergoing regulatory development in a further 16 countries."
"Vaccination is one of the cornerstones of any equitable and cost-effective health system across the globe and pharmacists look forward to joining efforts with other health professions in delivering vaccinations to our populations and contributing to bringing this pandemic under control. Community pharmacists are a valuable asset in expanding vaccination pathways. We are well aware of the ultra-cold supply chain and storage requirements of some of the recently announced mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. While recognizing that this may represent a challenge, especially in some parts of the world, such vaccines can be kept in dry ice inside normal refrigerators for several days," IPA added.
"While this will imply a speedy and well-coordinated logistical effort, it is not reasonable to think that mass vaccination with such vaccines can be restricted to major hospital facilities with ultra-cold freezers. Solutions must be put in place for other vaccination providers to play a role in both urban and rural areas, and both in high-income and lower-income countries. And pharmacies can and should certainly be part of the solution. And for the successful implementation of the public vaccination program, it requires enabling legislation, education and training programs, certification, quality assurance (standards of care), documentation, and oversight. This may seem like a large task list, but the key task for a Ministry of Health is to enact the enabling legislation to allow pharmacists to prescribe and administer vaccines," the Association further pointed out.
The letter further cited that once in place, the pharmacy regulator in the country can collaborate with FIP and our Regulators' Forum to implement the important regulatory oversight to ensure the quality of care and patient safety. The Regulators' Forum is a vast regulatory resource of vaccination practice requirements currently in place in FIP member countries. If the enabling legislation is already in place, FIP can assist in the implementation spectrum of developing training programs, certification, quality assurance, documentation and oversight, and access to established, quality training programs from FIP partners.
Presently, there are around nine lakh registered community pharmacists in the country.
Dr T V Narayana, National President, Indian Pharmaceutical Association said, "We have written a letter to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, informing about the strength and capabilities in supporting the Government's COVID-19 vaccination drive. For that we are planning to associate with other organizations and provide required education and training to pharmacists, which will enable them to accelerate the pathways for full implementation."
Narayan informed that there are around 65000 pharmacy teachers in the country, and we are planning to include them also in the training program. Besides this, the IPA is also considering Pharm-D students, as they have been already taking training in an internship as a potential health worker. The students who are in their final 6th year and undergoing internship in private and government hospitals will be given priority. Moreover, IPA is also planning to take the help of Medical doctors as they have the expertise and will accelerate the entire process.
While speaking on numbers, he added, "Our aim is to prepare around 1lakh pharmacists as COVID-19 vaccinators by the end of January 2021. In IPA, we have 22 state branches and from each branch, we have asked to identify five thousand registered pharmacists who could be given required training and also helping in creating the national-level database of potential COVID-19 vaccinators. Along with WHO and FIP, we will be providing the online training which is divided into three stage modules and spread over in two weeks duration. And in the first phase of the program, we are aiming to train around one lakh pharmacists by the end of February 2021.
The WHO along with FIP will be providing the resources like people and training material and locally it will be managed by IPA.
To view the official notice click on the following link: