Pharmacists could do more to empower female carers, a representative body for the sector has urged.

A report published yesterday (3 September) by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) showed that pharmacists are in an ‘ideal position to empower’ informal women caregivers.

The news comes while the FIP holds its 78th annual World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Glasgow, from 2 to 6 September.


‘Key’ relationship


The report said that pharmacists’ relationship with female caregivers is the ‘key’ to the value women place on the pharmacy as a community resource.

It added: ‘Pharmacists can empower women to effectively and appropriately prepare, obtain, store, secure, distribute, dispense, administer and dispose of medical products where appropriate as part of preventive health and treatments, for themselves and those in their care, and therefore, ensure effective disease and medication management.’

According to the report, women tend to visit pharmacies more often than men. In the UK alone, a survey of 10,000 adults aged 35 and over found that 76% of women were more likely to have obtained medicines and asked for advice compared to 63% of men.


‘Underappreciated role’


The report argued that informal female caregivers often play a crucial but underappreciated role in providing healthcare to their families and communities.

It stressed that intensive caregiving can have a ‘substantial’ impact on those caregivers, with 51% experiencing depressive symptoms compared to 38% of the non-caregivers.

The report read: ‘The evidence reveals that health systems rely on women’s contributions as important caregivers, but they do not adequately support women in this endeavour.

‘There is strong evidence on the negative impact of caregiving on women, if they are unsupported. This presents an opportunity for pharmacists to become more actively involved.’


Increasing number of female caregivers


With an ageing population, there is a growing number of women willing to care for their elderly family members.

While 70% to 80% of the impaired elderly worldwide are cared for at home by their family, between 57% to 81% of all caregivers are wives or daughters, according to the report.

The report said: ‘Pharmacists should support women in these emerging roles, because medicines are like a double-edged sword — of great benefit if used correctly, but capable of causing harm if used incorrectly.

‘The overuse, underuse or misuse of medicines results in wastage of scarce resources and widespread health hazards. By intervening with compassion and providing information, resources and support, pharmacists may positively affect care recipients and their caregivers’.