Due to the dedication and commitment of the Founding Pharmabridge Coordinator, Agathe Wehrli, a global community continues to grow to improve pharmacy practice and services through promoting learning and exchange opportunities. Over 2000 parties from 110 countries have registered with Pharmabridge; about two thirds of them are living in developing countries or transitional countries (DC), mainly in Africa and Asia, and many are asking for support and exchange.
They are mainly individual pharmacists, working in the following practice areas:
- Faculties or schools of pharmacy
- Hospital pharmacy
- Community pharmacy
- Ministries of health and regulatory bodies
At the beginning needs expressed were , above all, for books, computers and photocopy equipment as well as information in specific areas like compounding, quality control, drug information, pain relief, pharmacoeconomics, telepharmacy or postgraduate education etc. But nowadays many requests received are for participation in training activities/practice exposure, mainly pharmacy practice and clinical pharmacy, but also in pharmaceutical analysis, community pharmacy and in pharmacy regulation.
Offers for support originate mainly from North America and Europe and can be categorized as coming from the following:
- National associations (offering books and practice sites)
- Editors of pharmacy books
- Schools of pharmacy (offering practice sites)
- Students (offering book collection)
- Hospital pharmacies (offering practice sites)
- Individual pharmacists
Inevitably, the main challenge is to link needs to offers. This has been successful with books with important donations of drug information reference books from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). ASHP provides the American Hospital Formulary Drug Information (AHF-DI), a major reference book, to all those registered with Pharmabridge from developing countries. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) offers a number of current reference books every year. Walters Kluvers and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy have made major bulk book donations to Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and India respectively. Several US chapters of IPSF regularly forward books to pharmacy schools and individuals, one example being the School of Pharmacy of Ohio Northern University (Ohio Northern Students “Bridge” the Resource Gap, AACP News, December 2002 the programme stopped in 2007 due to faculty change but remains a good example of student involvement).
As for practice exposure/training, the first clinical pharmacy training visit was by an Indian pharmacist that went to the USA in 2002. This was followed by many training visits by pharmacists (mostly pharmacy teachers and hospital pharmacists) usually lasting 4 weeks. By the end of February 2018, 138 pharmacists, mostly faculty and University Teaching Hospital pharmacists have been placed. They are from Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Uganda and Romania. However most of the candidates were from Nigeria and India. They went to practice sites in Australia, Canada, Finland, Ghana, India, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, the UK and the US. Most of the candidates went to USA. Pharmabridge has also fostered South-South collaboration as follows: Ethiopia and Nigeria with Ghana; Nigeria with India; Tanzania with South Africa. Links established during practice exposure sometimes continue with ongoing collaboration and exceptionally under official Memorandums of Understanding.
Pharmabridge has promoted and connected experts with developing countries to provide group training. For example a US expert has carried out 5 to 10 days courses on industrial pharmacy (GMP) in Ghana, Mongolia, Nigeria and Sri Lanka and his offer is still valid (M. Anisfeld). Other experts have run seminars or webinars on various topics in India, Nepal, Nigeria and South Africa.
Pharmacists planning visits abroad have been linked up with pharmacists in the countries to be visited.
Pharmabridge organizes an open meeting during FIP Congresses to explain the programme and have Pharmabridge alumni reporting on the impact of practice exposure and hosts reporting about their experience with accepting candidates.
***Anyone attending the FIP Congress is invited to bring books for donation and distribution at the end of the open Pharmabridge meeting. See the FIP Congress programme for the meeting date and time.***