Delegates highlighted key developments since the last conference in Paris, May 2022. In the course of the conference there was opportunity to consider many significant common issues and trends. These included new authorisation and funding for assessment and treatment of common ailments by community pharmacists in several countries, and widespread advancements in vaccination administration. Another common issue is an ongoing funding shortfall for dispensing and pharmacy services, notwithstanding some recent recognition and progress in this area by governments in some countries. This funding shortfall is constraining efforts to implement new pharmacy services at scale, a problem that is exacerbated by workforce challenges affecting pharmacist support staff and pharmacist staffing in some countries. At the same time, pharmacy staff are spending large amounts of their time to minimise the impact on patients of problems associated with global shortages of many medicines.
A presentation by WPC’s newest member, the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA), provided participants with an excellent insight into the organisation and into community pharmacy services in Germany. ABDA is the umbrella organisation of more than 60,000 pharmacists in Germany.
In 2022 delegates had discussed the issues associated with the reclassification of community pharmacy from Retail to Health Care within the United Nations’ International Standard Industrial Classification system (ISIC). The WPC had written to the UN to propose a review of this outdated and restrictive classification and committed to work to secure reclassification. Four representatives of WPC, led by Chief Economist Stephen Armstrong, met with three representatives of the UN Statistics Division in New York on May 26 and reported back to the conference that the discussion was both positive and constructive. As a full classification review has just been completed by the UN it may take some years to achieve the change, but this will be a priority for WPC. The meeting with the UN represented a significant step forward in the process.
The Council is a member of the Associate Expert Group of Business at OECD, and continued its active engagement with the organisation through the conference. The Deputy Head of the OECD Health Division, Frederico Guanais, joined the meeting online, presenting on Building a fit-for-purpose workforce: The role of community pharmacists. Mr Guanais described a range of OECD health data that supported the importance and value of expanding the role of community pharmacists, and pointed out that most of the additional investment required for more resilient health systems is for the health workforce. Mr Guanais also answered many questions from WPC delegates.
A session on Workforce reinforced the common issues faced by many WPC members. Issues discussed included the importance of advancing scope in the context of retaining pharmacists in community pharmacy, the roles of regulated pharmacy technicians in several countries, and the unfortunate rise in mental health issues amongst pharmacy staff.
Delegates had presentations and discussions with a number of external colleagues including:
Conference delegates also heard the experiences of one of the two inaugural recipients of the Young Pharmacist Global Exchange Scholarship, Grace Orr-Young, an Australian pharmacist who has spent several months working in pharmacies in the United Kingdom.
Following the sessions the Strategic Plan was reviewed and future initiatives were agreed to guide the future work of WPC.
The 2024 conference will be held in Europe, with the dates and location to be determined.
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June 7, 2023
Communique:WPC Annual Conference, New York, May 2023
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