New Norms of Hospital Pharmacies in a Pandemic

Recently, our country is striving to battle against COVID-19 pandemic. Several innovative mediums have been introduced by the pharmacies in hospitals to fight this battle.

According to a report by Pharmaceutical Services Programme, Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), new norms and standard operating procedures (SOP) were implemented in pharmacies to prevent the transmission of the virus. In fact, only trained pharmacists are allowed to process the prescriptions and dispense medications to the COVID-19 and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) wards. The prescriptions are sent to the pharmacy through online platforms such as Pharmacy Information System (PhIS), email and WhatsApp. After that, the medications were supplied individually to the wards instead of using medication trolleys. 

Besides that, pharmacy personnel need to comply with personal protection procedures for services that require close contact with the patients. For example, medication counselling services and ward pharmacy. 

During the period of Movement Control Order (MCO), several online pharmaceutical services were utilised to reduce the travelling of patients to the pharmacy. For instance, Medicines by Post (Ubat Melalui Pos, UMP) is a service that deliver medications to patients by courier. Based on the data provided by MOH, the demand of UMP has increased tremendously, from 42,422 medication parcels in 2019 to 194,119 parcels in April to June 2020. Furthermore, patients’ medication supplies were increased to two-month supply or more to reduce the crowds in pharmacies.

In conclusion, it is vital for healthcare professionals to be versatile and adapt to the new norms in tackling a global pandemic.