YPG Global WEBlogs

Ever wondered what it is like to be a Young pharmacist in Portugal, Peru or Pakistan? The FIP Young Pharmacists’ Group has teamed up with one of the British community pharmacy organisations to help you find out through a new online initiative: WEBlogs.

The concept of online diaries known as WEBLogs or blogs, started off in the U.S. with a growing number of physicians using them to share best practice. In Great Britain, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) launched a community pharmacy WEBlogs site in December 2003 with 12 community pharmacists from across the country sharing their daily experiences of everything from pharmacist prescribing and repeat dispensing to the use of dispensing robots in community pharmacy.

Building on this concept, YPG launched a Global Young Pharmacist WEBlogs site at an international press briefing during the 2004 FIP World Pharmacy Congress. 12 young pharmacists from around the world kept online diaries on the FIP website for 6 months on what is it like to be a young pharmacist. 

The first version run until early March 2005 and finished with an online vote to find the Young Pharmacists’ Group’s ‘Favourite WEBloggers.’ The joint winners were Ayad Ali from Iraq and Eurek Ranjit from Nepal.

Highlights from the 2004 YPG Global WEBlogs Project

Drug Shortages in Nepal

A common theme among the WEBloggers from developing countries was the shortage of pharmaceuticals. Eurek Ranjit, YPG WEBlogger from Nepal reported on the situation in his country in his WEBlog:

One of the jobs that I carry out around the clock is addressing the shortage of pharmaceuticals. There are a number of medicines and even disinfectants that are just not available in the market. The medicines that go missing from the market have been referred as DND (Drugs for neglected disease and Orphan Drugs) by a number of people. In my practice, I have invented my own term as DLM (Drugs with Low Mark ups) for these medicines.

These medicines have been missing for two reasons; firstly as there is less mark up with these medicines as compared to other medicines. Secondly, they are missing due to the regulators imposing impractical rules. So, you may call these medicines DND after all, drugs neglected by decision makers.

One example is Penicillin V which is unavailable in the Nepalese market, owing to its very cheap rate while at the same time Nepalese pharmaceutical companies are aggressively marketing other newer anti-biotic for micro-organisms that can be easily covered by Penicillin V. Unfortunately, patients with rheumatic heart disease who are dependent on Penicillin V are deprived of this life saving drug.

Counterfeit Medicines (Iraq)

Ayad Ali is a young academic pharmacist working at the University of Tikrit, Iraq. His WEBlog has focused on how the war in Iraq has been impacting on pharmacy practice in the country.

The past decade & a half of global isolation coupled with the embargo and sanctions imposed on Iraq has left the country in a tight dark corner of the world. All aspects of life in the country have been affected; the pharmaceutical sector is one of the most disadvantaged. It has left a state of stagnant national drug regulation in the country in which there is no visible innovation or noticeable developments in quality assurance measures. The lack of instruments and the shortage of professional pharmacists have encouraged the emergence of what I call "Pharmaceutical Chaos" in the country.

….Till now, we (as public-health custodians) have not scientifically diagnosed a counterfeit medicine, since to do so we require many resources including what I call the "3-M factors" (Manpower-Materials-Money), we have very few professional pharmacists in both pharmaceutical analysis and quality control. The present national quality assurance centre in Baghdad is not fully equipped with instruments, there is a huge shortage in glassware, so what about the sophisticated instruments? Do not ask…

Co-operation & collaboration between the various government agencies such as the drug regulatory authorities, customs & police is essential for success in the fight against counterfeiting but currently the fight against terrorism is their main priority. The Country’s security status is the only thing on the Government’s agenda with the principle ‘Survive longer with ill, better than survived shorter with Kill’. Therefore, there is no point in submitting a proposal to the Iraqi government on counterfeit medicines until we can walk safely from our homes to our workplaces and vice versa…

Halil Tekiner was the winner of the round three. This is what Halil wrote about his experience as a weblogger

I was an FIP YPG weblogger during 2005-06, and therefore, regularly wrote my blogs on the YPG’s website. My blogs covered the significance of effective pharmacist-patient relationship, pharmacy practices in Turkey, pharmaceutical bodies and their roles, related laws, problems faced, and some daily issues. In fact, I had merely intended to depict a precise picture of different aspects of the profession in my country, thinking this might be useful for my colleagues in other countries. I wanted my entries to be interesting while written in an easy-to-read style, as well. Over the course of the project, I received e-mails from around the world that motivated and encouraged me to gather my entries into a book. This was reinforced when I was elected as Weblogger of the Year, and, thus my book, A Delicious Cake on a Golden Plate, came into being. It was published November 2006, in Ankara, by Irem Ecza Deposu, Co., and includes 28 of my entries with some photos. So, what began as a six-month project with a limited audience has become a permanent record with broader appeal.

The third and last round was completed in August 2007. The winner was Stephen Mawa from Uganda. Stephen is a research pharmacist in several HIV vaccine clinical trials in Uganda. His WEBlog has focused on his view about pharmacy practice in Uganda.

In Uganda, there is an acute shortage of pharmacists. A pharmacist-to-population ratio of over 1:100,000 is nothing to smile about. When you throw in the fact that demand-supply mix, they are an expensive human resource to recruit and retained. And coupled with domination of the pharmaceutical sector by businessmen rather than professionals (pharmacists), the profit-driven greed looks for a cheaper solution.

To fill this void, today we have a new breed of cadres working in pharmacies and medicines outlets like clinics and drug shops. The people have varied background: nurses, clinical officers, nursing assistants.....the bottom line is they lack basic training in medicine management and use. Patient safety is compromised countless times as these people try hard to impress their bosses with "good sales".