KARACHI - Sindh Health Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho has deplored that medication errors including misspelled prescriptions, look alike medicines and other mistakes committed by the healthcare providers are killing people while pharmacists hired by the government are not being given responsibilities, which is a “governance issue” at hospital level and should be resolved soon.

Speaking at a reception hosted in the honour of eminent pharmacist and President of Pakistan Society of Health System Pharmacists (PSHP) Abdul Latif Sheikh, who has been awarded with the prestigious Donald E Francke Medal and Award, Sindh Health Secretary said there were at least 50 pharmacists hired for the Civil Hospital Karachi alone by the government but they were not being consulted by the doctors and hospital management to utilize their expertise in the saving patients’ lives.

“A few months back, a German lady came to me at my office and complained that her husband was killed due to medication error in the city. When we investigated, it appeared that somebody gave anti-cancer medicine to her husband instead of anti-hypertension medicine because packaging of both the medicines was look alike. The German man could not understand the English language and by consuming wrong medicine, he died,” Dr FazlullahPechuho deplored.

Paying rich tribute to PSHP President and former Chief Pharmacist of Aga Khan University Hospital Abdul Latif Shaikh on receiving the prestigious medal and award from the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP), he said Americans don’t give awards to ordinary people and if they have selected any person from Pakistan, it means that this person has done a great service to suffering humanity and saved thousands of lives which compelled Americans to award him their prestigious award.

He maintained that government was trying to introduce clinical pharmacy services and practices at public hospitals in the province and in this regard, consultation with pharmacy council, associations of pharmacists, pharmaceutical industry and private sector would be started soon to achieve this important milestone in the health sector.

On the occasion, he suggested that highest civil award in the category of medicine and public service should be awarded to Abdul Latif Sheikh for his service for ailing humanity and people of Pakistan and he vowed that health department would recommend his name for the highest civil award in the country.

In his key-note address, eminent pharmacist and recipient of Abdul Latif Sheikh said as many as half a million people are annually being killed at healthcare facilities in Pakistan due to medication errors including ‘misspelled prescriptions’, look alike medicines and drugs with similar names but lives of these people can be saved by adopting modern clinical pharmacy practices.

“Every year, as per my rough estimates half a million people are being killed at hospitals across Pakistan because they don’t have clinical pharmacy services and qualified pharmacists, who can control and regulate the medicines, their dosages and potency. By having qualified and trained pharmacists, hospitals would be able to reduce their mortality rate to a large extent”, opined Latif Sheikh.

Chief Executive Officer of the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRAP) Shaikh Akhtar Hussain said regulatory authority would try to learn from the experiences of Abdul Latif Shaikh in improving pharmacy services in Pakistan and urged him to assist the authority in its recent campaign against spurious, counterfeit and smuggled drugs.

Terming Shaikh a role model for the pharmacists and pharmaceutical industry people, he hoped that principles and systems established by him would be replicated and followed by other public and private hospitals in the country.

Aga Khan Hospital’s CEO Johannes Theodorus Kidzierski (Hans) said Abdul Latif Sheikh helped Aga Khan University Hospital in becoming world’s best healthcare facility and the only JCI-accredited hospital in Pakistan, for which he deserves unprecedented praise and hope that he would continue to work for the betterment of healthcare services in Pakistan.