In a groundbreaking move towards accessible healthcare, the Pretoria High Court has just given the nod for pharmacists to prescribe medication for HIV and TB (tuberculosis) patients.
The decision will allow for the introduction of the Pharmacy-Initiated Management of Antiretroviral Treatment (PIMART) initiative by the South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC).
With pharmacies ideally positioned as a fundamental entry point to first-line treatment protocols and the broader healthcare ecosystem, leading pharmacy chain Dis-Chem’s executive manager Tanya Ponter says they applaud any advances that will expand access to HIV and TB services.
Delivering better health outcomes
“This decision ties into our healthcare ambitions and focus to provide integrated primary healthcare to a greater number of consumers, aimed at increasing access, reducing cost, and delivering better health outcomes for more South Africans.
More accessible to patients
Currently living with TB, Emma Molefe from Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State highlights how this initiative will benefit her because of the difficulty of not always having time to get her treatment at the clinic.
“I have been searching for an alternative to get my TB treatment besides the clinic because I work every day and I can’t be off every week to go queue and get them there. They don’t give me enough medication at the clinic; they usually give me tablets that only last for a week. I am sure things will be better for me because Dis-Chem is easily accessible, so it will be of great use to me,” she says.
HIV Activist and Ambassador Thabiso Seema from Pretoria says the availability of treatment at pharmacies is a positive move, especially for those who are really sick to avoid long queues.
“I am currently fetching my medication at a pharmacy where doctors are available, and there’s no need to wait in line for long periods, and I can go at any time to fetch my medication. It’s the easiest and most convenient way of accessing medication, and it is amazing to see more of these services being introduced to benefit our convenience,” says Seema.
‘Front door’ of healthcare system
The success of pharmacy-provided primary healthcare is a game changer, and with its emphasis on accessibility, convenience, and affordability, patients have come to appreciate the value of this innovative approach to healthcare.
“Primary healthcare is gaining widespread recognition as being the “front door” of the healthcare system,” remarks Ponter.
Ponter also shares that Dis-Chem already has more than 400-PIMART trained pharmacists and nursing practitioners who will fully abide by the expanded scope of practice and competency standards published by the SAPC and applications for the necessary Section 22 (15A) permits will be made to the department of health so that the service can be offered to customers.
Voiceclip of Dis-Chem’s executive manager Tanya Ponter.
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