NAWP takes part in the European Women Pharmacists Meeting 2020

The European Women Pharmacists Meeting (EWPM) web seminar, entitled ‘Coping with the Corona Crisis’, took place last week.

Fri 2nd October 2020 The PDA

The virtual meeting was chaired by one of NAWP’s past presidents Virginia Watson, who alongside other past presidents including Dr Christine Heading, Monica Rose, Hazel Baker and Anita White, pioneered the international collaboration with the EWPM.

It was therefore an honour for the newly elected NAWP President Naina Chotai and Vice-President Daniela Rusalim to be invited to take part in this meeting.

During the meeting, Jacqueline Surugue, a hospital pharmacist from France and Linda de Graaf a community pharmacist from a small village in The Netherlands recalled their country-specific challenges and strategies to coping with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jacqueline described how the coronavirus outbreak turned the hospital world upside down and how hospital pharmacists had to deal with medication shortages of propafol, midazolam, curares, shortages in PPE and hydro alcoholic solution/gel. The lack of beds in France meant that patients had to be transferred between hospitals in specially adapted buses, trains, helicopters, and planes that strictly complied with infection control measures.

Linda had to cope with a disproportionately high number of coronavirus infections in her village – Heerde in The Netherlands. Heerde was on a list of the top 5 villages with the highest number of coronavirus cases during the first wave of the pandemic. The lockdown infection control and social distancing measures were generally similar to the ones in the UK, with some exceptions that allowed greater access to prescription only medication.

A memorable moment in Linda’s presentation was when she described how the whole community came together to help each other and how the physiotherapists, who could no longer see patients face to face, distributed free leaflets with exercises tips and helped deliver medication to the most vulnerable patients.

Prof. Dr Torsten Tonn from Germany talked about the manufacturing of COVID-19 convalescent plasma containing neutralising antibodies and how he currently leads the clinical studies demonstrating their safety and efficacy. The number of participants in the study is relatively small but the results so far are very promising, with the mortality rate decreasing from 7% to 1.2% in COVID-19 patients transfused with convalescent plasma containing high tier neutralising antibodies within 72 hours of hospital admission. The hospital stay for COVID-19 patients treated with convalescent plasma was significantly reduced.

Dr Heidi Meyer from Germany described the various vaccines for SARS-CoV-2, potentially available in the EU in 2021. It was interesting to learn that the regulatory pathway for vaccine development normally takes between 10-15 years, but the close collaboration of the international community has led to the development of a vaccine in record time.

Dr Meyer talked about the theoretical risks associated with vaccine development and emphasised the upcoming challenges, including:

  • the effectiveness of the vaccine
  • the constraints in manufacturing capacity
  • the logistics of vaccination campaigns
  • the possible need of multidose administration
  • the lack of interchangeability of the vaccines
  • the difficult mission of ensuring good public perception and addressing rumours and false statements.

Prof. Dr Alexandru Rafila from Romania, a member of the WHO’s Executive Board, talked about universal healthcare coverage and drew attention to the fact that at least half of the world’s population does not have access to essential healthcare services, out of which about 100 million people live in extreme poverty.

The pandemic reminds us of the fragility of our most basic systems and highlights the importance of universal health coverage as a key element of the resilience of healthcare systems which need to anticipate, absorb, recover and adapt to a wide array of systematic threats when faced with disruption.

The meeting drew large online participation and ended with hopes that the 15th European Women Pharmacists Meeting can go ahead as planned in Oradea, Romania, on 22 May 2021, with attendees taking part in person.

NAWP is committed to supporting any upcoming events and initiatives of the European Women Pharmacists, an association which has been forged by key members of the past NAWP committee.

Get involved

Find out more about the European Women Pharmacists Meeting.

Find out more and join the National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP).

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