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Three priority actions to engage pharmacies more effectively in identifying people with tuberculosis, especially in high-burden settings, are proposed in a paper published recently in BMJ Global Health. The authors include FIP CEO Catherine Duggan and FIP's lead for practice development and transformation Gonçalo Sousa Pinto. The three actions are:
- Granting access to clear and concise pharmacy-specific guidance for the management of people presenting with cough.
- Establishing structured mechanisms for pharmacies to support people with presumptive TB, for example regarding screening.
- Embracing digital technologies to improve the linkage between pharmacies and TB programmes and surveillance.
The paper also includes an infographic to support pharmacists in managing cough and other TB-presumptive symptoms in the pharmacy. “To date, there is little specific guidance or practical tools available on TB management for pharmacists, co-designed with pharmacy professionals or societies. To address this gap, we set about creating a simple, easy-to-understand and evidence-based infographic to use as an educational tool,” the authors write. The number of people with TB that are not reported is growing globally, up from 2.1 million in 2019 to 4.1 million in 2021. Often being the first point of access to care, community pharmacies are strategically positioned to identify these people, the authors add.