PSTU-03 - The humanitarian face of pharmacy — How can we facilitate the pharmacist response?

Great Hall 3-4
Organised by Military and Emergency Pharmacy Section in collaboration with FIP's Community Pharmacy Section


Ms Melanie Morrow, National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, Australia and Mr Raj Vaidya, CPS ExCo member, India


Every year, wars and disasters send thousands of people fleeing. Sadly, this happens all too often, and in many places around the world, and yet we don’t hear about many of these conflicts. No matter where or why these people and families are forced to flee their homes, they have one thing in common: they need help. Families fleeing war and disaster often live in very vulnerable conditions and they all need shelter, food, water and medical care. The escalation of the conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance. Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighbouring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. They are in urgent need of protection and support. Pharmacists are on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries, and are committed to deliver assistance when and where access and security allow. Teams in different countries have also scaled up their presence and operations in Ukraine, where conditions enable more humanitarian access and where needs are also growing. The world is also seeing an increasing number of disasters as a result of global warning and climate change. This has resulted in more pharmacists requiring help – as well as volunteering – when the unforeseen happens and an emergency strikes. Pharmacists play a vital role in in supporting countries and communities during natural disasters, but how well prepared are pharmacists and staff for a devastating event, and what can pharmacists do, and how? How can FIP facilitate the pharmacists’ response to disasters and conflicts?

The role of pharmacists in humanitarian causes and natural disasters is continuing to evolve as organisers and policymakers understand the value that pharmacists bring to those various events. In some cases, pharmacists volunteer from a purely selfless internal motive to help; in other cases, there is an organised political requirement for pharmacy to be included in the medical team assigned to provide relief and support to an event. This session showcases how pharmacists have gone beyond their daily activities to offer humanitarian support, as well as the global need and value to engage pharmacists in refugee crises or natural disasters. Examples will be given from Turkey, Syria and Ukraine.



11:00 – 11:05 Session introduction by the chairs
11:05 – 11:35 Pharmacists’ roles in supporting refugees from Ukraine, lessons learned
Ms Kateryna Khmilevska, Solidarités International, Ukraine
11:35 – 12:05 Reflections from the front line on how we can support countries and colleagues in the short and long term
Dr Beatriz Linhares, Médecins Sans Frontières, Belgium
12:05 – 12:30 Panel discussion with chairs, speakers and invited panelists:

  • Mr Mark Koziol, The Pharmacist’s Defence Association, United Kingdom

Learning objectives

  • To describe and develop the role of pharmacists in humanitarian responses
  • To raise awareness of the challenges that medicines pose and pharmacists face in humanitarian responses
  • To describe how pharmacists can get involved in humanitarian projects
  • To provide opportunities for networking amongst pharmacists with humanitarian work experience or an interest in this area

Take home messages

Pharmacists play an essential role in disasters and crises. It is important that we offer training and resources to all pharmacists to be prepared for disasters. An increasing number of humanitarian crisis situations are occuring due to natural causes (owing to global warming, climatic change, and natural geographic processes) as well as global socio-political scenarios, with a rising number of unresolved conflicts, economic turmoils and international disputes. Learning from disasters and crises is important for the development of new emergency preparedness plans.