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  • Writer's pictureMara Hansen Staples

Are pharmacies key to expanding access to diagnostics?

Mara speaks to Madhu Pai for a new piece in Forbes.

In low-income and high-income countries alike, pharmacies are often a first point of call for basic health care. Patients in sub-Saharan Africa seek care at pharmacies for the same reasons we use pharmacies in North America: they’re accessible, convenient, the hours of operation are flexible, staff are trusted, and they often offer care at lower costs.

We believe that pharmacies with better diagnostic capabilities and stronger linkages to the health system can help patients get the timely, community-based care they need.

As Mara shared with Dr. Madhu Pai,

New diagnostic tools now allow pharmacy staff to provide more accurate advice. For example, there are now rapid diagnostic tests for malaria which are available in pharmacies. Simple respiratory rate counters and pulse oximeters might allow pharmacies to identify severe pneumonia. Self-tests for HIV are already sold in pharmacies in South Africa, Belarus, the US, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Research in Uganda has recently shown that patients are able and willing to collect their own vaginal samples to test for HPV, a causative agent of cervical cancer. Samples collected by women at home could be discreetly dropped off at a local pharmacy for processing.”


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