“Think globally, act locally” has just taken on a new perspective within healthcare. Last week, I watched a webinar from the American Chemical Society on green chemistry. They have several of these, archived online. The one I watched was Green Chemistry and Global Access to Medicines in Developing Countries, with Joseph Fortunak from Howard University.
I only was able to see part of it because of technical difficulties, but that portion was so impressive I wanted to share it here. The most essential concepts I noted were these.
– Because of challenges in access to medications in SubSaharan Africa, there is a move toward creating an infrastructure of technology, resources and skills able to synthesize core medications on demand.
– There is an urgent need for Pharmacy schools to address the needs of access in resource-poor areas. This includes building equivalent skills to those being used in Africa to create needed medications at point of need and time of need.
– There are lessons for resource-rich locations to be learned from medicine access solutions generated in resource-poor locations. These have the potential to reduce costs globally, as well as crowdsourcing new solutions to emerging challenges.
– Pharmacists should be providing direct care to patients, and should be integrated into healthcare provision at a level and on a scale equivalent to other healthcare providers.
Part of what they were talking about included ways to use local resources, including local traditions and expertise; ways in which local production can help minimize impact on environment; the need to compromise and lower costs by accepting & managing use of incompletely purified natural products; acknowledging cultural differences and patterns of use and their impact on needs. For that last point, one example given was that increased use of anti-infectives might succeed in lowering need for medications in an area, but that is not equivalent to adequate access when the medical is needed. Important concepts to consider.
Much of what I heard seemed to dovetail with the shift toward personalized genomics and the vision of custom medications to fit individual needs. The ability to synthesize medications is a core foundation concept to a vision of a future with personalized medications.
Here is the whole ACS green chemistry webinar archive.