Sunday, October 31, 2010

What Pharmacists Do: A Day at Desa Temuan

What got all the staff from a district health office (comprising pharmacists, doctors, dentists, nurses, medical assistants, health officers, administrators and drivers) up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday (30/10/10)? It was the Kem Kesihatan Kampung Orang Asli at Desa Temuan. This is part of the government's health promotion effort, offering the orang asli free medical and dental check-ups, educating them on medicines as well as raising awareness about tuberculosis and smoking.

Left: The Bukit Lanjan Community Centre.
Right: Dewan Seri Temuan.

It rained in the morning so it took a while before the crowd started to throng in.

The pharmacy station.

Busy packing goodie bags, some lucky ones received vitamins for their children.

Left: Simple items such as paracetamol, chlopheniramine, bisacodyl, calamine lotion etc.
Right: Prescription

Dispensing medicine to patient.

We went around pinning badges 'Kenali Ubat Anda. Tanya Ahli Farmasi Anda' on the kids. The kids were really happy to get the badge, they went on to bring their friends and asked us for it.

As we did pinned the badge on them, the 'promotion' of the role of pharmacist went like: 'Ubat ini comel kan? Jadi bila sakit, mesti ambil ubat ya.'

[To the older kids] 'ah kak siapa?' 'Doktor' 'Bukan, ah kak ahli farmasi'
(Nevermind that it may not stick into them yet, at least they know that someone other than the doctor is part of the healthcare team. By the way, I think it doesn't help in our effort to enhance the role recognition of pharmacists among the public when the word 'pharmacist' is not exactly easy to remember-for those not-so-educated ones and for kids to pick up.)

We also took the opportunity to speak to some people (targetting the right audience) about how to spot a genuine product (MAL number, hologram & meditag), proper storage of medicine and its importance as well as the products purported to cure certain chronic diseases which can't be advertised.

The pharmacy team.

Left: Awaiting their turns for medical check-up (blood pressure, immunisation among children, body mass index, any other chief complaints by patients)
Right: Phlegm-taking station (for Mantoux test)

Left: The crowd got larger after 10 a.m., so much so that we stayed till 2 p.m. (beyond the scheduled time)
Right: Lucky draws

Traditional performance by the Temuan girls.

In my opinion, the health promotion could have been better carried out if we were allocated a session to give a talk. Topics can be on 'Kenali Ubat Anda', but we do it in a more interactive way, bringing samples of counterfeit products, getting audience to check the genuine products with the Meditag (it was hard achieve the same outcome at the pharmacy counter though we had goodie bags as the patients came staggeredly and we couldn't hold their attention long enough). We can utilise the goodie bags more effectively (we had initially planned to do so but when we saw only a handful of people earlier on, we decided to give something to whoever who came to our pharmacy station) by giving them to those who ask questions about what we have presented.

Prior to the campaign, the authority could also have urged the people to bring their medicines from home so we can do a
medicine cabinet clean-up for them. However, a colleague told me that when the health inspector did a pre-campaign survey, it seemed that the orang asli wasn't that interested in the whole campaign. Indeed, it is a long way towards raising their awareness about health and medicines. Perhaps the government can look into home medication review for these people as well.

Nevertheless, it was a fruitful morning and we shall strive to be better in upcoming activities!

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece and therefore subjective by nature. The opinions expressed here are the opinions of the individual author and are not necessarily the views of the particular district health office.


  1. What an interesting event! Did a child say "I wanna be a pharmacist when I grow up"? Hehe. That would be so nice.

    Anyway, how was the preparation of this event? I mean, what did you have to do prior?

  2. Well it was all planned out by the PKD. We menurut perintah haha. What we did on that day was entirely on us (how we wanted to give our goodie bags etc.). Well some younger kids are not that well-versed in BM. On a side note, I do have patient in my clinic telling his granddaughter to be a pharmacist like me. Today a second patient said that to her grandaughter too!