Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist December 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist December 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 29
Natural disasters are defined by the Federal
Government as: 'A serious disruption to
community life which threatens or causes death
or injury in that community and/or damage
to property which is beyond the day to day
capacity of the prescribed statutory authorities
and which requires special mobilisation and
organisation of resources other than those
normally available to those authorities'.
The pharmacy community can relate to the
Pharmacy Guild's definition that 'an emergency
is any event that adversely disrupts the
community pharmacy's operations or damages
pharmacy assets. It is usually a situation
that requires an immediate response and
includes natural disasters such as fire or flood,
as well as pandemic and fuel emergencies.
Many emergency situations will impact either
directly or indirectly, potentially leaving the
pharmacy without essential services'.
If the Australian community was asked to
define a natural disaster, it would most likely be
described along the lines of 'an inconvenience
prompting the need for a brolly'.
However, these extreme weather conditions can
wreak havoc on a community.
Damages caused to communities result in a cost
to the national economy of about $1.1 billion
each year. Figures collated by the United Nations
Office for Disaster Risk Reduction show that
there were more than 160 reported disasters
in Australia from 1909 to 2010, resulting in the
deaths of 959 people.
According to a COAG report referenced in the
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
definitive handbook Managing emergencies
and pandemics in general practice -- A guide for
preparation, response and recovery, scientific
research indicates the intensity and frequency of
disasters is expected to rise in the future.
'For this reason, thorough and comprehensive
disaster planning and preparation by all levels
of government, statutory authorities, agencies,
individuals, businesses and communities is of
paramount importance. Lessons learnt from
past events highlight the importance of disaster
preparation in reducing the overall impact of
a disaster. Disaster planning should never be
neglected or overlooked', the report said.
Pharmacists can once again put on their
superhero capes to play a leading role in disaster
planning by ensuring continuity of medicine
supply for customers and patients. This includes
helping those who may have lost their
prescriptions, personal identification and funds
after a natural disaster.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia's Preparing an
Emergency Management Plan for a community
pharmacy says community pharmacy has an
essential role to play in ensuring pharmacy
services are available throughout emergency
situations to provide those affected with
'All community pharmacies should have an
Emergency Management Plan (EMP). Planning
for an emergency should include continuity and
recovery planning to help your business prepare
for and survive any emergency situation', it reads.
Planning for these emergencies goes beyond
ensuring supplies are available. Pharmacists
can assist those in need who are at their
peak level of stress by providing information
on the most efficient and suitable options
of accessing essential medicines during an
emergency situations; including any triggered
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia's (PSA's)
Draft PSA Position Statement on the Role of the
Pharmacists in a Pandemic states: 'Of great
importance is a continuation (to the greatest
extent possible) of day-to-day pharmacy
business in the community, in hospitals and
other settings to ensure that supply of essential
medicines and the provision of professional
pharmacy services continue to be available
Catherine Waterman is a New
York-based journalist. Until
recently she worked for the PSA
ACT branch in Canberra.
True to their laid back attitude, with bushfires, floods,
severe storms and earthquakes making an appearance
far too often, Australians consider natural disasters as
part of their way of life -- if an unpleasant part.
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