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Launch of Family Friendly Pharmacies initiative

6 May 2004

Launch of Family Friendly Pharmacies initiative

Health Minister Annette King launched the Family Friendly Pharmacy Initiative - another way by which pharmacists become even more accessible and approachable for their communities.

Thank you very much to Parents Centre New Zealand and the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand for inviting me to officially launch the Family Friendly Pharmacies Initiative today.

The initiative is most welcome in terms of promoting the health of families, and I would firstly like to acknowledge Pharmacy Guild chief executive Richard Heslop and Parents Centre chief executive Viv Gurrey. Both your organisations have done a tremendous amount of work.

I would also like to thank pharmacist Richard Perham for allowing his pharmacy to be used for this special occasion.

Pharmacists represent one of the most important health contacts between families and health professionals on a daily basis.

Thousands of people visit community pharmacies every day for a wide array of reasons. As you all know, pharmacists dispense prescriptions, supply medicines and advice for minor ailments, work with prescribers to select the most appropriate drug therapies, answer health-related queries, and supply medical and surgical aids.

Increasingly, however, there is also an emphasis on providing information and counselling, with some pharmacies offering specialist medicine review services to rest homes or people with complex medication regimes.

The Family Friendly Pharmacy Initiative is another way by which pharmacists become even more accessible and approachable for their communities. This initiative is about developing local relationships. It is about "supporting the needs of parents" and encouraging "family friendly communities".

It is pertinent that this initiative is being started in community pharmacies, as pharmacists are often the first and most accessible point of contact for parents concerned about their children's health.

To get the best health results from this contact, therefore, it is essential that parents feel comfortable about approaching their pharmacist for advice and information, and family-friendly pharmacies will strengthen the strong relationship that already exists. It is also appropriate that Parents Centre NZ is so heavily involved in this initiative because your organisation knows what parents need and how best to deliver on those needs.

Parents Centre NZ knows that having a family is both the most exciting time of life for parents and also the scariest, and it realises that often all that's needed during those "scary moments" is some understanding, reassurance and some good advice.

What better place than a community pharmacy to access that understanding, reassurance and good advice? By developing closer relationships with families, this initiative will provide more opportunities for pharmacists to pick up potential health issues and medication concerns.

Picking up potential health problems early is at the core of the Government's Primary Health Care Strategy, which lays great emphasis on all aspects of primary health care, health promotion and disease prevention.

Pharmacists are in an ideal position to encourage healthier living generally and to support the achievement of key population health objectives in the New Zealand Health Strategy, such as reducing smoking, improving nutrition and levels of physical activity, reducing the incidence and impact of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and improving oral health.

All these objectives represent areas in which major gains can be made for the health of New Zealanders.

I also look forward to the day when pharmacists become involved as a norm in Primary Health Organisations. The development of PHOs has been remarkable, with 68 already established in less than two years, and more than 3 million New Zealanders now enrolled.

As PHOs continue to develop and mature, they will all, I am sure, begin to embrace the concept of wide range of health professionals working together to keep their enrolled populations well for as long as possible within their communities.

As I said, the Family Friendly Pharmacies Initiative certainly fits well with the Government's overall approach to health promotion and preventative health care.

Thank you again very much for inviting me to speak at the launch of this exciting initiative, and for the enthusiasm you have shown in bringing Family Friendly Pharmacies about. I wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing the positive effects this initiative has on communities around New Zealand.

ENDS

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