11 November 2019
It seems like yesterday that I was invited by the Commonwealth Health and Education unit to attend a meeting at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to discuss how the Fleming Fund could potentially help support tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Commonwealth states. Looking back at the last 18 months, I cannot quite believe the impact that conversation has had. The then Head of the Fleming Fund understood completely the missing piece on use of antimicrobials and how pharmacists (as part of a multidisciplinary team) were a key component in helping to develop more effective systems of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) – an area that has strong leadership from pharmacists across the UK and beyond.
The discussions with DHSC prompted me to recall my recent meetings with the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) regarding their tried and tested Health Partnership Scheme (HPS) that they had been keen to involve more pharmacists in for some time. This would provide a great model for a shared learning approach to AMS between the UK and other Commonwealth nations. And so all the stars aligned and CwPAMS was born as a concept, and the funding delivered just as I hopped off on maternity leave to deliver my own baby!
It has been incredible watching CwPAMS unfold and the dedication of staff and the many volunteers and partners that have been involved in the teams. It has brought us closer to our international peers and highlighted just how much we can learn from each other. It is probably one of my proudest moments of my career to see pharmacists from multiple institutions, associations and levels of practice united under the CwPAMS umbrella, leading the development and integration of their colleagues into multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) in a collective effort to tackle AMR in the global south.
The support that the partnerships have received has been unprecedented – notably from Keith Ridge, the Chief Pharmaceutical officer who alongside Chris Cutts (Regional Director at Health Education England) was instrumental in helping to pioneer the first batch of Global Health Fellows. Another highlight was being able to meet these incredible 16 pharmacists last month and see how much they have grown as a result of CwPAMS and the skills and confidence they have developed and brought back to their roles in the NHS.
Dame Sally Davies has also been a huge champion for us, as have health ministries, chief pharmacy officers, AMR secretariats and pharmacy councils spanning all collaborating countries – no doubt catalytic in the both immediate impact and longevity of the projects. It was an incredibly proud moment for me to be able to attend the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in Geneva in May and present the CwPAMS work to the health ministers at the request of the UK government.
There have been so many highlights for the team during the project – the inception workshops, launch of the app, seeing the uptake of Global PPS – already vast strides have been taken in surveillance of antimicrobial use collecting data that will be key for future action. All these are great achievements, but it is the outcomes that will be our legacy – the friendships formed, careers grown, systems changed, and for me, using the fantastic expertise of pharmacists across the globe to help address the use of antimicrobials across international boarders, utilising and raising the profile of this (too often forgotten) profession, shining a light on the impact they can have on patient care in AMS and beyond.
It is probably one of my proudest moments of my career to see pharmacists from multiple institutions, associations and levels of practice united under the CwPAMS umbrella.
Victoria Rutter - Executive Director, Commonwealth Pharmacists Association
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