By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 4: In a major effort to check the spread of tuberculosis
and its multi-drug resistant variants, the World Health Organisation and
the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIB) on Sunday signed a
joint statement on the role of pharmacists in TB care and control.
Over 2000 leading pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists from
across 80 nations are meeting in the city over the six-day 71st World
Pharmacy Congress, formally declared open by President Pratibha Patil
The joint statement establishes a series of measures to help detect TB,
offer treatment support to TB patients, and substantially reduce the
number of deaths from the disease. This would be achieved by
encouraging the FIB's network of two million pharmacists and
pharmaceutical scientists around the world to become fully engaged in
national TB care and control efforts.
Tuberculosis is one of the world's biggest infectious killers and caused
1.7 million deaths in 2009, and nearly three lakh deaths in India. But it
is also curable. Patients can be treated by completing a six-month
course of prescribed medicines. And it is because pharmacists are often
the first pint of contact for people with TB symptoms - especially in
countries with a high burden of TB - that their frontline role is critical.
Dr Hiroki Nakatani, WHO assistant director-general for HIV/AIDS,
tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases, said "pharmacists
can be gatekeepers to vital TB health services. WHO welcomes the
opportunities that further collaboration with the Federation's network
of pharmacists will bring in helping many people with tuberculosis
gain early access to the care and treatment they need".
The statement calls for among other things providing patient-centred
treatment supervision to promote adherence and help prevent multi-
drug resistant TB; and promoting their rational use of anti-TB
medicines through procuring and dispensing quality-assured medicines
and fixed-dose combinations recommended by the WHO and
prohibiting the sale of anti-TB medicines over the counter or without
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