What are pharmacists to public health?
LAU Student Society of Health System Pharmacies hosts a lecture on the role of pharmacists in public health planning by Dr. Rasha Hamra, the Ministry of Public Health’s director of Public Relations and Health Education Department.
“Public health is about thinking outside the box,” Dr. Rasha Hamra, the Ministry of Public Health’s director of Public Relations and Health Education Department, told LAU Pharmacy students.
The LAU Student Society of Health System Pharmacies (SSHP) hosted her lecture on the role of pharmacists in public health planning at LAU Medical Center–Rizk Hospital on February 26 .
Following a quick historical overview, Hamra highlighted the many contributions of pharmacists to public health, from vaccination and control of infectious diseases to family planning through birth control, among others.
“Pharmacies are fundamental settings for public health intervention – where direct personal health care is provided – and pharmacists are an integral part of the workforce,” said Hamra. They are therefore key players in global and national awareness campaigns and epidemiological studies.
But not only that, pharmacists play a major role in developing and improving public health practices, as well as instigating and advancing public health related laws, and LAU School of Pharmacy faculty members have been vital partners in these.
“Several LAU professors served as academic experts on various committees, such as the ones on herbal medicine or updating best manufacturing practices,” said Hamra before adding, “We strongly rely on academia for constantly updated knowledge and expertise, it also gives us credibility.”
Continuous interaction contributed to the event’s success, keeping the students alert and involved in what seemed more like a discussion of shared ideas.
For Pharm.D. student Melissa Kordahi, “In Lebanon pharmacists often end up working in community service or as medical/pharmaceutical labs representatives. This lecture widened my professional horizon, especially that the speaker herself has pursued an interesting professional path.”
Hamra, who holds a Pharm.D. degree from LAU (third promotion), worked as a clinical pharmacist while pursuing a master’s in public health. She later collaborated with the American University of Beirut and the World Health Organization before moving to the ministry to take on her current responsibilities.
“She is really inspiring,” concluded Kordahi.
This was the second event to be organized by the LAU-SSHP, a society that is the first of its kind outside the U.S. and which was launched last November with the aim to offer students a platform to connect globally to those within the pharmacy field and build their future careers.
“We are strongly encouraging the students to take on the organization of such events and become active rather than passive learners,” said Dr. Wissam Kabbara, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy who co-organized the event with Dr. Lamis Karaoui, clinical assistant professor and director of experiential education.
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