As the coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to spread around the world, we can see massive efforts being made worldwide to stop its spread. Our institution is also trying to implement a lot of preventive measures and ideas in support of the health care system in Croatia.
The health and safety of pharmacists and patients, as well as maintaining the supply of drugs, are our highest priorities.
A lot of measures have been introduced by the Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists, and the ideas for some of them have come from our members working in community or hospital pharmacies.
For community pharmacists, the Chamber has prepared special work instructions to be obeyed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These instructions help to organize work regarding the problem of queues and keeping the distance between patients and between patients and pharmacists.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in all parts of Croatia, the pressure on pharmacies has increased tremendously. In order to ensure the supply of drugs, medicinal products, disinfectants, surgical and professional surgical masks, etc., we have introduced measures that dispense of all the aforementioned items can amount to two pieces per person.
In addition, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, the Chamber has obtained approval regarding ethyl alcohol for medicinal uses. The amount of ethyl alcohol which a pharmacy can order and dispense further is restricted. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all restrictions regarding the amount of ethyl alcohol are suspended. All the approvals regarding ethyl alcohol will be obtained retroactively.
In communication with the Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists, the Ministry of Finance has suspended the restrictions on imports of ethyl alcohol.
In cooperation with the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices of Croatia, the Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists has managed to postpone the due date for submitting the annual report on drug use.
Also, we have provided all the pharmacists with the statement by the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices of Croatia regarding the use of ibuprofen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the many things which we fought a lot for was changing the operating hours of pharmacies. The Chamber has issued recommendations for organizing shift work in phrmacies. The recommendation is to organize pharmacy staff in teams that cannot be changed without a valid reason (infection with COVID-19 virus or sick leave due to some other reason).
Every team will work for 7 or 15 days. After that period a team goes home and another team comes to the pharmacy. With this measure, we are making the maximum effort to protect our pharmacists and all other colleagues in pharmacies. If there is an obligation for isolation due to a potential infection with COVID-19 virus of one of the team members, this team can be suspended and another can keep working.
In Croatia we are faced with a big problem in population because there are a lot of people who do not obey self-isolation measures. In cooperation with the Croatian Health Insurance Fund, the Chamber has implemented a national health database which contains information about people needing to self-isolate. As part of the procedure, the pharmacist is required to check the epidemiological status of every patient who wants to enter a community pharmacy. Once the pharmacist has checked that the patient is under no restrictions, the patient is allowed into the pharmacy. Otherwise, if the pharmacist notices that the patient has not been following the self-isolation restrictions, the pharmacist is required to tell the patient to go home and obey the isolation measures.
Also, we are trying to organize free drug delivery for chronically ill and elderly people, as well for people needing to self-isolate or for people infected with the COVID-19 virus. Free drug delivery will be conducted by pharmacists on a voluntary basis. In the near future we expect to see shortages of drugs and a lot of switching will be done. For now, this is an idea and we hope that it will be realized soon. This project will be organized in cooperation with the Croatian Red Cross and several other institutions.
Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists