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Pharmacists responding to international crises

Many pharmacists and companies have made contact with International Health Partners (IHP) over the past few weeks looking for ways to make an impact on the huge need in so many conflict zones and disasters around the world.

IHP facilitates the donation of medicines to developing countries either into government health systems or via the World Health Organization or other recognised charities who are implementing partners in disasters or development.

The UK Department for International Development (DfID) announced £3m funding for Gaza a couple of weeks ago and IHP, as a preapproved partner with DfID, was funded to enable many of the required medicines donated by pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers around Europe to be delivered to American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and International Medical Corps which already work in the region.

IHP has been offered large volumes of medicines by several of our longstanding pharmaceutical donors in response to the identified Gaza Needs List and DHL provides the warehousing and logistics for the product to be picked, packed and shipped from its warehouse.

In addition many hospital, industry and community pharmacists have generously collected and donated money to IHP but, to date, it has not been possible to receive medicines.

As co-authors of the WHO Guideline for the Donation of Medicines we do not support the use of returned medicines.

Furthermore, we manage pallets and shipping containers of medicines through DHL rather than small quantities or mixed batches therefore we have not been able to receive procured medicines from individuals. However, we are keen to learn how we could collaborate with our colleagues in this.

Several pharmacists have been procuring medicines and supplies for inclusion in a convoy with InterpalUK, which works for Palestinians in need. The British public has responded generously to the DEC Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for the Gaza Crisis.

Recently DfID announced funding to support the victims of the Iraq crisis, and today there is a meeting about responding to the ebola outbreak so the need continues to grow exponentially.

However, as in all disasters, whether natural or political, getting medicines for those who are most in need often proves difficult.

If readers are involved in any international disaster pharmacy initiatives, or would like to be, or if they have suggestions or solutions they contact me. 

Trudi Hilton

Chief Pharmacist

International Health Partners 


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20066204

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