The Gap Report & Its Opportunities

Self Care has been a platform of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia for as long as I can remember.
It is good that it is at last receiving government recognition, particularly as it so easily fits a platform of patients taking responsibility for their own care and that the education required for patients is a mentoring style, which uniquely fits pharmacist delivery.
i2P and the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) both welcome a new report that calls on governments to integrate self care into health policy, including greater investment in improving health literacy and preventative health.
Preventative health includes lifestyle, health eating and nutritional supplementation.
Governments have long held that pharmacists, because of their training, are the health professionals uniquely available to advise on nutritional supplements.

The report,Towards Responsible Self Care: The role of health literacy, pharmacy and non-prescription medicines, by strategic policy institute Global Access Partners (GAP), was launched recently by the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley in Canberra.

It sets out several recommendations for government, citizens, health professionals, pharmacies and private health insurers to increase uptake of self care and addresses three of the multiple components of self care – access to medicines, the role of community pharmacy in primary healthcare delivery, and health literacy as a universal enabler of greater self care.

Here is an opportunity for the PSA to lobby for a payment to be made to pharmacists for providing the mentoring information component for Self Care, preferably as providers.
i2P has been commenting on this position for well over a decade but at least there is a defined movement to initiate the process.
Pharmacists are uniquely suited to this purpose.

Deon Schoombie, ASMI Executive Director, said:
“The GAP Report points to the need to reorient the healthcare system towards a much greater emphasis on the prevention of the many lifestyle diseases forecast to drive spiralling cost increases in Australia’s healthcare system.

“It also highlights the need for the health system to support consumers to take more responsibility for managing minor conditions and chronic illnesses in partnership with health professionals rather than being passive recipients of healthcare.

“So the question is how might Australia develop and implement self care in a consistent and coordinated way that maximises the benefits not only for individual citizens but for participants in the health and care sector?

“Implementing self care is beyond the capacity of Government to mandate or any single group to bring about. It requires input and action from all aspects of the health sector”.

 With pharmacy having occupied this health care space for so long there is also a need to change attitudes within a pharmacy environment to support the role of clinical service pharmacists, the logical people to create the transformation required.
Pharmacy already has a leadership role in self care and should now look to expand its market share with whatever incentives come on offer.
Clinical service pharmacists would independently seek to enhance their own performance and practice within a pharmacy environment, and given a change in attitudes and culture within the profession would readily form up into alliance partnerships.
If that cannot occur, then pharmacy will miss a massive opportunity to organise itself as the major force in primary health care.

Key recommendations of the GAP Report are:

  • Consumers need encouragement to take more responsibility for their health and wellbeing, but they also need the knowledge, skills and tools required to succeed
  • Government must create a policy environment in which self care forms an integral part of a national health policy and to work with all stakeholders to make it a reality
  • Regulatory authorities should encourage an environment that supports evidence-based non-prescription and complementary medicines
  • Cultural change is needed in the relationships between health care professionals and patients and between the different health care professions
  • The expansion of self care will increase the demand for a broader range of solutions from industry – demand that should be met through product innovation and wider access to safe, effective treatments
  • The private health insurance industry needs to offer the right mix of incentives to alter behaviour in favour of self care.

“Expanded self care, along with improved health literacy, should lighten the load on Australia’s hard pressed health services and Federal Budget, whilst improving patient outcomes, consumer convenience and quality of life,” said Dr Schoombie.

The report is available at

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