Pacific pharmacists reaching out to communities during lockdown

Pacific pharmacists in New Zealand are urging Pacific communities to stay on top of their medication or repeat prescriptions during the lockdown.

The Pacific Pharmacists Association is a pharmaceutical workforce that aims to meet the health needs of Pacific people in accordance with their culture, custom and heritage.

Auckland is currently on alert level three, while the rest of New Zealand is on alert level two. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the settings would be reviewed on 21 August.

President of the Pacific Pharmacists' Association Kasey Brown said even though the government urged people to stay home to minimise the spread of the virus, people would still need to go out for necessities, including getting their medications.

"It's important that you keep taking your medicines regularly, as prescribed by your doctor. Don't stop or reduce your dose of your regular medicines because of Covid-19."

Brown said if people's medicines were running low and they needed a new prescription, they should contact their doctor.

"If you have problems getting in touch with your doctor, speak to your local pharmacist and they may be able to help you get a prescription from your doctor," Brown said.

Auckland-based pharmacist Natalia Nu'u said many of the medicines prescribed by the doctor worked best when they were taken every day.

"Blood pressure medicines have to be taken every day in order to lower your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. If you were to stop taking them then your blood pressure would rise again, and this could increase your risk of poor health and worst case scenario you could have a heart attack.

"By staying on top of your medication and continuing to take them as instructed by your doctor you can be sure that you are keeping healthy and looking after yourself," Nu'u said.

The Ministry of Health stated that all medications had specific instructions about how best to take them.

"When used properly, medicine can help to keep you well."

Nu'u advised people to listen to their doctor and pharmacist when they gave specific instructions, so that they could get the most benefit out of their medicines.

"There is a misconception sometimes that taking more of a medicine will make you better faster, but this is not true and can be dangerous as medicines can be harmful if you take too much.

"Some medicines work best when taken every day, so running out or skipping a day can mean that your health condition is not being treated as well as it could," she said.

With a resurgence of Covid-19 found in the community, pharmacies would remain open, but may operate differently.

"Home delivery is a good option if you are isolating, are more vulnerable to serious illness, or prefer to stay at home," Brown said.

"You can contact your preferred pharmacy or check their website to see whether they have your medicine in stock and if they offer home delivery or if you can order online or over the phone.

Brown said people could also arrange with a friend, neighbour or family member to place an order or to pick up medication.

"There are enough medicines in the country for everyone. It is important not to stockpile your medicines or get a larger supply than usual because this could lead to shortages for other people."