by Sherif Guorgui, B.Sc. Phm., R.Ph.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 unprecedented public health crisis, pharmacy professionals and stakeholders across all different sectors have indeed risen to the challenge.
Colleagues on the frontlines have done their part and beyond…as well as those on the regulatory and advocacy sides. Everyone had a role to play…and everyone delivered.
I am extremely proud of my colleagues and extremely proud of my profession. That’s why my personal efforts throughout this pandemic were geared more towards supporting and promoting pharmacy and pharmacy professionals at large.
In the third week of March, I started an initiative to help pharmacists source proper protective equipment for their staff. I interviewed different suppliers and found one that was willing to offer the masks on a cost-recovery basis to support frontline workers. Given that many suppliers had a minimum requirement of at least 10,000 masks for a purchase order, I put a call out on social media to collate orders from all pharmacy professionals to help meet the minimum order requirement to purchase the masks. In just under 48 hours, over 12,000 masks were ordered.
Ironically, at the beginning of March, in collaboration with a coalition of independent pharmacy groups and banners, we had just hosted the second Independent Pharmacy Day at Queen’s Park (Toronto, Ontario) to kickstart Pharmacists Awareness Month and promote the value of independent pharmacy in building healthier communities. Fast forward to the end of the month, I put a call out to rename the month of March to Pharmacy Appreciation Month. I believe that given how we stood up to this unprecedented challenge, our value has certainly surpassed the “awareness” phase…it was time for us to be appreciated. Thank you to the Canadian Pharmacists Association for the immediate response, which was celebrated by pharmacists everywhere.
Continuing on that path, and firmly believing that only we can tell our own story, I started a four-week radio ad campaign to promote pharmacy heroes on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19. I researched the cost to run an ad on various radio channels. I started a public campaign to raise funds to cover the cost. In one week, the ad was produced and started to be played on the radio. Thank you to all the colleagues who have contributed generously to help make this initiative happen!
There was also a lot of work done on both advocacy with government and op-ed publications to be adequately summarized in this article. For those interested to know more about it, please check the links below.
Sherif Guorgui, B.Sc. Phm., R.Ph. is co-CEO/Chief Strategy, Stakeholder & Government Relations Officer, at OnPharm-United