PETALING JAYA: The exclusion of the pharmacists in the Health Ministry’s 13-member Health White Paper (HWP) Advisory Council is a disappointment, says the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS).

MPS president Amrahi Buang said not having any member with pharmacy and policy expertise in the council could result in the advisory body’s output to be “not holistic, comprehensive or inclusive”.

“Placing the role of pharmacists out of the equation is considered very antithesis towards advancing healthcare in Malaysia.

“Pharmacists are major contributors in both the public and private healthcare sector. From the preliminary steps of medicine development, right to the final steps of post-marketing surveillance of drug safety, pharmacists are valuable, trusted and needed players in the healthcare industry.

“The MPS expresses its sincere gratitude and appreciation to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin for his progressive thinking and planning of the HWP, with the intent on making the health system more sustainable and resilient.

“However, it is disappointing that the 13-member HWP advisory council excluded the involvement of pharmacy practice and policy experts,” he said in a statement on Friday (Sept 2).

Amrahi said pharmacists in Malaysia contribute to various services, including research and development of drugs, quality control of pharmaceutical products, provision of standard pharmacy education and ensuring continuity of medical care during emergency times, among others.

“These roles of pharmacists clearly show our contribution to hospitals, community pharmacies, academia and clinical research centres.

“In fact, from a patients’ perspective, a huge chunk of their healthcare expenditure is on medicines.

“Therefore, for the HWP to gain bipartisan support, pharmacists as experts in medicine must be invited to the table,” he said.

Formed on Aug 10, the HWP advisory council is co-chaired by former health minister Tan Sri Dr S. Subramaniam and Axiata Group chairman Tan Sri Shahril Ridza Ridzuan.

Other members of the group are prominent doctors and academicians.