Pharmacy and the future of the National Health System

We have had to wait for this great crisis to assess the health, care and social potential of our network of 22,071 pharmacies!

It is in difficult moments that the reaction capacity of organizations is put to the test. For this reason, it is not surprising that some Minister of Health has said that the greatest revelation of success of this pandemic has been the pharmacy . We have had to wait for this great crisis to assess the health, care and social potential of our network of 22,071 pharmacies. When it seemed that nothing was working, when everything was closed, the pharmacy has been by the side of society, fulfilling its vocation of public service and faithful to its motto #LaCruzDeLaFarmaciaNoSeApaga.

It has been demonstrated that the Spanish model of community pharmacy is, above all, a social achievement of citizens for which it is worth fighting and working. And based on this approach, pharmacists have presented to the Commission for Social and Economic Reconstruction of the Congress of Deputies four concrete solutions to improve the future of the National Health System (SNS) and the welfare state.

The first is to reaffirm the community pharmacy as the primary care pharmacy , through actions such as the development of follow-up programs, adherence or reconciliation of medication; the regulatory push with the maximum guarantees and the participation of the pharmacist in home pharmaceutical care , from which more than 850,000 patients at risk have benefited during the state of alarm; or the maintenance and extension of the collaboration model between the hospital pharmacy services and the community pharmacy to facilitate access to medication, as it has already done with more than 7,000 patients during the pandemic.

The second is to include pharmacy in public health policies , through initiatives such as its incorporation into the Epidemiological Surveillance System or its integration into vaccination strategies. It is about converting those information poles and health sensors that are the pharmacies, through which 2.3 million Spaniards pass every day, into an authentic health intelligence network that allows to advance decision-making in matters of public health in emergency situations, or multiplying the impact of actions directed both to the population as a whole and to specific groups.

The third is to integrate community pharmacy into the digital transformation of Health , for example, develop a complete, unique and shared pharmacotherapeutic history, so that doctors and pharmacists have access to information on the complete medication of each patient. We have also proposed a National Plan for Patient Safety on the Internet that prevents illegal sales, counterfeiting, and controls misleading drug advertising, hoaxes and misinformation on the Internet. Likewise, we have asked to participate in the preparation of the White Paper on Digital Transformation of the SNS announced by the Minister of Health.

The fourth and last is to guarantee the viability of pharmacies for their health, social and territorial cohesion work, especially those located in fragile, depopulated and depressed areas And it is that ensuring its viability is to guarantee the equality and health equity of all Spaniards; In the same way, integrating the pharmacy network into social services , thanks to its social and territorial roots, will make it easier to reach the most vulnerable population and adapt social care programs to the needs of each town, neighborhood or city; As well as having the pharmacy in the 2030 Agenda programs, it will facilitate the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

These proposals show that we have not gone to the Congress of Deputies in search of recognition. We have done it with a constructive attitude and with concrete solutions adapted to reality . Let us hope, for the good of all, that honorable Members have taken note and that this reconstruction commission is not, as some predict, a missed opportunity. Because the Public Health System needs us all. And its future depends on using more and better the available resources.

Starting from this premise, the health system cannot be rebuilt or progress in public health without pharmacists, we are an army of highly qualified health workers, and without pharmacies, a network of health establishments without a waiting list or prior appointment. We want and can do more. We offer our knowledge, proximity and professionalism because we are part of the lives of citizens, and we want to be part of the solutions, from the conviction that more pharmacy is always synonymous with better health.

Jesús Aguilar, president of the General Council of Pharmacists.