• Improving Equitable Access to Essential Medicines: Learning from the Experience of Pharmacists within Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

      Connor, S; Forrister, D; Karir, V; Kauffman, Y; Sochacki, M (Wiley, 2020-04-04)
      Two billion people worldwide currently lack access to basic essential medicines. Compounding this challenge, there is also inequity in relation to medication quality, particularly within resource‐constrained settings. Shortages in qualified pharmacy staff exacerbate these problems in poorer countries, with many non‐governmental organizations attempting to fill these gaps. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF; also known as Doctors Without Borders) is an independent non‐profit organization founded in 1971 that provides free medical humanitarian care for populations in need. Pharmacists are an integral part of MSF's medical activities and are engaged in multiple functions within the organization. They serve as a liaison between logistics, supply, and medical departments, and facilitate delivery of patient care. Moreover, pharmacists ensure the medication use process is intact from project planning to distribution of medications. Pharmacist aid workers within MSF assume many roles including field worker, project manager, project coordinator, access to essential medicines advocate, and many others. We highlight the work of MSF pharmacists via vignettes, sharing their experiences from countries around the world. Working with MSF is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor; becoming an aid worker in the organization preferably requires prior experience working in resource‐limited settings, as well as humanitarian work experience. The role of the pharmacist within MSF is evolving, with increased emphasis on clinical pharmacy services, rational drug use, and antimicrobial resistance. Pharmacists are essential to humanitarian work in ensuring quality and safety in the care of patients served.