The President of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Mr Paul Sinclair, has called for effective action on climate change in all areas of pharmacy practice, as he particularly charged pharmacists to bring the subject to the front burner in all their healthcare endeavours.
The new FIP president explained that sustainability requires not only economic viability, environmental protection and social equity, but also basic human needs such as healthcare to be met.
“Health systems must become more efficient. Many needs could be met by pharmacists,” he added.
He made the statement on Sunday at the opening of FIP’s 81st World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Brisbane, Australia.
“For too long, the negative impact of the healthcare sector on our environment has been a marginal topic”, he said.
Mr Sinclair’s first speech as president focused on sustainability and described how FIP’s “SustainabilityRx” programme of work addresses the linked issues of environmental and planetary health, response to disasters and pandemics, and sustainable services.
He pointed to increasing incidences of extreme weather and highlighted that poor planetary health is leading to more people needing healthcare and to the emergence of new health problems.
According to him: “Effective action on climate change must be a priority for the pharmacy profession. Every part of pharmacy has a responsibility. From pharmacy associations promoting environmental sustainability and the industry reducing its carbon emissions to net zero, to pharmaceutical scientists practising green medicines development and regulators collecting standardised national data on pollution.
“From educators teaching environmentally sustainable pharmacy practice to practitioners preventing waste through ensuring the optimal use of medicines, every act will help. We can support the planet while supporting patients,” Mr Sinclair said.
Sinclair underlined primary healthcare as a cornerstone of sustainable health systems and universal health coverage, but also emphasised the importance of workforce, education, technology, research, collaboration and funding. Pharmacy itself must be sustainable, he said, before expressing concern over reports of pharmacists being pressured to deliver more services without adequate support and of pharmacies reducing their opening hours or even closing completely in some countries.
“This is an enormous blow to communities. Health and finance ministers alike must recognise pharmacy as integral to a well-functioning health system,” he said.
Mr Sinclair urged the Pharmacy profession to remain as united against challenges as it had been during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to build a sustainable future for health care. “FIP is confident that our profession will provide solutions to many health challenges,” he said.