Involving Pharmacies in TB control
For most of us, when we get a cough, our first stop is the local pharmacy. This behavior forms the basis of our rationale for engaging pharmacies in our efforts to fight TB.
In 2012, with support from the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, REACH embarked on a five-year plan to establish sustainable partnership for TB control with private pharmacies in Chennai and Thanjavur district, thereby increasing public awareness of TB and the RNTCP at the community level.
The initiative encourages pharmacies to refer those with TB symptoms in order to promote timely diagnosis and treatment. Our primary objectives include facilitating private pharmacies to actively notify the number of TB patients receiving anti-TB drugs from them, and recognizing their role as key stakeholders in TB control.
In addition to this, our project also focuses on students pursuing degrees/diplomas in pharmaceutical and sensitizes them on TB control and the role pharmacists play at the community level to implement the same. In order to build these partnerships and motivate pharmacies.
REACH conducts regular workshops, one-on-one visits, community meetings and also provides communication materials on a regular basis.
This initiative currently is being implemented in Chennai, Thanjavur, and Tiruchirappalli, targeting over 2,500 pharmacies spread across the two areas.
Pharmacists from several areas are trained by health officials and REACH staff and are taught about the importance of DIRECT strategy ( Display, Identification, Referrals, Educate & Counsel the private patients, Pharmacy as a Treatment provider). Information covered in the training sessions include TB facts, current TB statistics, and the role pharmacists play in preventing and treating TB.
Post the initiation of the project, pharmacists engaged with the initiative have reported enhanced trust and goodwill in the community. They have expressed their satisfaction in referring their customers for TB diagnosis and treatment without financial reimbursement. They have also noticed that their involvement in patients’ lives has led these customers to recognize other TB symptomatic patients and introduce them to the pharmacists’ services.
Patients report that pharmacists show great respect during treatment and discretion regarding their TB status. Female TB patients, especially, feel more comfortable receiving DOTS from pharmacists. Additionally, pharmacists have helped patients to complete treatment by providing assistance during dispersal and by recording each visit.
Since 2013 we have received 1906 referrals from 594 Pharmacies. 604 patients were diagnosed with TB and were started on treatment.
Activities under Pharmacy Initiative
- Line listing of Pharmacies
- Information Materials developed and Disseminated
- Sensitization of Pharmacy Association members
- One to one sensitization
- One to one visits
- Sensitization of Pharmacy College students
- Community Meetings
- Participation in the zonal level review meeting of Pharmacists
- Qualitative Assessment