Pharmacists are experts that provide knowledge and supervision on drugs and deal big role in the handling, planning, prevention, safety and promotion of pharmaceutical products and enhancement of health outcomes during this Covid-19 crisis (Thiessen, Usery, Justin, Lopez-Candales, & Angel, 2020). Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that causes shortness of breath, fever, cough, fatigue etc. it all started in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and slowly spread to many countries today (Wikipedia, 2020). They played main role alongside along with other healthcare providers as front-liner during this Covid-19 pandemic in healthcare facilities (Manitoba, 2020). Roles pharmacist playing is creating public awareness, managing outpatient, management of supply chain, establishing Drive-thru pharmacy and managing community dispensaries during this pandemic.
1.1 Role in building the public awareness
About 18 million cases worldwide have been recorded since its occurrence (Bdair, Alshloul, & Maribbay, 2020). Besides giving drug information, pharmacist also played role spread the awareness on the importance to keep away from getting infected or spreading the Covid-19 disease (Canadian Pharmacists Association, 2020). Posters being displayed in every corners of pharmacy to remind the public steps they should take to prevent the spread of the virus. Displaying posters to wear the mask and teach them the correct way to wear a mask. In Malaysia, from 1 August 2020 the government made it mandatory for all to wear facial masks in crowded public places and in public transports. Fined of RM1,000 will be imposed if fail to comply (Syahrul, 2020). Some pharmacists encourage the public to stay home throughout this pandemic by displaying posters written the telephone number wherever the pharmacist will provide alternative service (Canadian Pharmacists Association, 2020). Preparing and printing as well as providing the flyers with valid and accurate information becomes one of pharmacist role. Besides this, pharmacist take the responsibility to spread public awareness through social medias using official pharmacy website or social media accounts.
1.2 Role in control the Efficiency and Safety of Off-label drug use for COVID-19
Furthermore, as a result of the lack of vaccine COVID-19, a range of “off-label’ medicines are administered, including chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, remezzivir, interferon beta-1a, azithromycin, and Lopinavir-ritonavir by the public. In the control of the effectiveness and safety of this “off-label” use the pharmacist plays a critical role to make sure there are no drug abuse. The management of drug trials needed even pharmacists (Yew & Ahmad, 2020).
1.3 Role of Pharmacist in Outpatient during Covid-19
Pharmacists emphasize social distancing at the pharmacy counters. Before entering the facility, the Malaysian National Security Council commissions mandate the screening of patients’ forehead temperature (Yew & Ahmad, 2020). Pharmacists play vital role taking precaution measures by placing physical barriers in doorways or pharmacy counters, cording off areas, labelling the floor with tape to direct patients with 1meter distancing from one another, or putting acrylic glass barriers in front of pharmacy counters. Other security measures include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and wearing three plies surgical grade mask and provide patient face masks and compulsory them to wear (Si-qian, et al., 2020). The registered pharmacists also prepared and provide medication to the patients as fast as possible to cut down patients’ waiting time and avoid waiting too long as it will create crowd in front pharmacy counter. Pharmacists role in medication safety make sure there are no medication error during dispensing and all the patient’s information are accurate. Pharmacist must provide sanitizer to the patients at counter to keep their hands clean (Yew & Ahmad, 2020). Another important role is the pharmacist compulsorily swab the pharmacy counter every 5-10mins to avoid unwanted spread of infection to both pharmacist and the patients. In Malaysia’s government public health institution, at the specialised screening camp, pharmacist on duty must supply the appropriate medication according to the doctor’s prescription and make sure there are no medication error or any allergies. Since implementation, the number of patients attending clinics has decreased significantly (around 50%), reducing overload and physical contact between patients and health care workers as a result (Yew & Ahmad, 2020).
1.4 Role in establishing Drive-thru pharmacy during Covid-19
Pharmacist played a big role with establishment and promoting Drive-thru service in many healthcare institutions. In drive-thru pharmacy the patients need to drive their car at the drive-thru counter and get their medication supply. Drive-thru pharmacy facilities enhance access to drugs while safeguarding the precautionary steps recommended by the WHO (Hussain, M.Dawoud, & Babar, 2020). The drug is pre-checked, labelled and packaged in advance, patients receive the drug without leaving the car, and only little interaction is involved in this whole operation and medication error prevented as medication prepared in advance (Hussain, M.Dawoud, & Babar, 2020). In United Arab Emirates (UAE) patients receive the prescribed drug, keep the social distance, and minimize the spread of the infection in this hospital (Thumbay University Hospital launches drive-thru pharmacy service, 2020).
1.5 Role of pharmacist in Drug/ Medicine Store Department of a hospital or clinic
The pharmacist in this department played a biggest role by making sure the drugs supply is enough for patients during this pandemic and place orders on time and make sure the supply chain is continuous with ensured quality (Thiessen, Usery, Justin, Lopez-Candales, & Angel, 2020). In hospitals providing treatment for covid-19 patients will need to use good quality personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from the spread of the virus for both the nurses and patients as well as the drugs and drips for treatment. Shortage in the PPE, can be a huge risk for both parties (WHO, World Health Organization, 2020). Equipment to run Covid-19 swab test is also important to make sure they are sufficient by the pharmacist. The pharmacist role must arrange the funding from government to be received on time without delay to purchase these essentials from their concession companies or any sponsors from organisations (The Pharmaceutical Journal, 2020).
1.6 Role of pharmacist in Community Pharmacy
Pharmacist in community pharmacy spend a lot of time to educate the public on how to minimize spread of COVID-19 (Manitoba, 2020). People frequently self-diagnose themselves and visit community or retail pharmacies to get the medication for the sickness they have such as unexplained fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) (Canadian Pharmacists Association, 2020). Community pharmacies bound by laws and regulations where they can’t supply all medications without valid prescription especially Dangerous Drugs (Slawther, 2020). Community pharmacist advice the public that walk into the pharmacy if necessary, to visit the doctor for proper treatment and medical attention (Stewart, Barai, Praities, & Dowdall, 2020). According to Cabas et al., (2020) the community pharmacist must manage their supply chain and shouldn’t have shortage of OTC drugs and PPE especially masks. They must monitor their stock and make the price affordable for the public with assured quality. Community pharmacists came out with Home-delivery services to help and protect the vulnerable members of our society from possible exposure to COVID-19 (COVID-19 Home Medicines Service, 2018). Defenceless people immunity wise and under quarantine can call up, send a message with a picture of their prescription to the pharmacy and order their prescribed medicines on time (Stewart, Barai, Praities, & Dowdall, 2020). The registered licensed pharmacist ensure the information are correct and there are no medication error. The pharmacist must wear (PPE) correctly for self-defence from the virus before enter the patient’s house (COVID-19 Home Medicines Service, 2018).
Pharmacists play a vital role during this pandemic. They prepare and provide many alternatives way besides face-to-face services that ease the public from visiting the pharmacy especially during the lockdown period and get the vulnerable members of our society covered. During this pandemic, the role of the pharmacist of ambulatory care has become more important (Thiessen, Usery, Justin, Lopez-Candales, & Angel, 2020). Pharmacist is needed as they are the guardian of the drugs and to ensure medication safety to the public (Yew & Ahmad, 2020). However, role of pharmacist remains unclear to the public and recognition of their role is necessary