Blended Learning to be the New Norm for Pharmacy Students aver Experts at a Webinar conducted by Amity University

The global pandemic has brought in the need to review and revisit the existing practices across fields with the field and study of Pharmacy undergoing momentous change. To deliberate further on this Amity Institute of Pharmacy conducted an online panel discussion on “New Normal for Pharmacy Field” in Covid – 19 Pandemic with Prof. (Dr.) B. Suresh, President, Pharmacy Council of India and Pro Chancellor JSS Academy of Higher Education, Mysuru; Sh. Atul Kumar Nasa, Head, Delhi Drug Controlling Authority, New Delhi and President, IPGA and Prof. Dr. Mahendra G Patel, University of Bradford, National Board Member & Treasurer, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, UK as panelists who shared their views with a majority of students and faculty members logged in the virtual platform.

Welcoming the panelists Prof. (Dr.) Balvinder Shukla, Vice Chancellor, AUUP shared how pharmacy is playing an important role in COVID19. “We are hopeful that the new vaccine for this virus will be out soon and help the society at large. Pharma industry is in the manufacturing sector and how these manufacturing units will function keeping the social distancing will be a challenge; how the supply chain will work; will the segment be able to take the lead role in fulfilling the local and global demands and also how the manufacturing sector will take care of its present workforce and fulfil the future talent requirement which is in the educational institutions are some of the pertinent questions plaguing us,” averred Dr. Shukla. She further shared the various initiatives being undertaken by Amity University to maintain academic continuity, organizing the online Amity Youth Forum and also catering to their physical and mental well-being of students by conducting online Yoga, Zumba classes and also having 24/7 counselling helplines for them.

Prof. (Dr.) B. Suresh Bhojraj, President, Pharmacy Council of India and Pro Chancellor JSS Academy of Higher Education, Mysuru talked about ‘Strategies for Implementation of Online Education in the PCI based Syllabus for D. Pharmacy, B. Pharmacy, M. Pharmacy and Pharm. D. in perspective of Global Emergencies – “The New Normal”. “A complete curriculum revision is being proposed in Diploma in Pharmacy (D.Pharm), Bachelors in Pharmacy (B.Pharm), Masters in Pharmacy (M.Pharm) and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D). We are also focusing on Quality Assurance with emphasis on NAAC, NBA and International accreditation; technical integration and having a pharmacist workforce by having a pharmacist registration & tracking system,” shared Dr. Bjojraj giving a total overview of the future of the sector. He also stated how an increasing emphasis will be laid on blended education and learning in pharmacy in the near future. PCI will also be inviting views from various stakeholders though an online portal seeking suggestions for improving the syllabus. He further added that online teaching is no substitute for normal teaching process.

Sh. Atul Kumar Nasa, Head, Delhi Drug Controlling Authority, New Delhi and President, IPGA talked about ‘What should be the road map for Pharmaceutical Industry and Regulators to tackle the Global Pandemic type situations specifically in terms of regulations of manufacturing of various essential products, Clinical Trials, Price control and special training’. He shared that all stakeholders across departments and organizations are working round the clock to fight COVID-19. “We need to ensure continuous supply of medical essential supplies to fight this virus and also check hoarding of these supplies,” stated Mr. Nasa. He shared how Ministry of Consumer Affairs brought a notification to bring hand sanitizers and masks under essential commodities. He also shared a chronology of the various measures that have been taken by the government to ensure sufficient supply of health essentials, API’s etc and constantly monitor the scenario across the country on a weekly basis.

“20 countries are working day and night through their R&D initiatives to come with a vaccine against this virus. And India is becoming stronger by the day in production of masks and PPE kits supporting the initiative of the Prime Minister in being vocal for the local,” shared Mr. Nasa. He also stated how prevention will be the norm in the coming times against COVID. He further added that India will come out of this scenario if people stick to the guidelines being issued by the government from time to time.

Furthering the discussion Prof. Dr. Mahendra G Patel, University of Bradford, National Board Member & Treasurer, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, UK shared his views on ‘The Global Challenges to the Community Pharmacist in Tackling the Pandemic Covid-19; what should be the Future Strategies to handle such Pandemics or “New Normal”; what kind of resources or support tool should be developed for dealing such pandemic and how to upskill Pharmacist?’

Sharing the global challenges to community pharmacy, Prof. Patel talked about workplace preventive measures to protect front line staff and customers they serve. He also talked about introducing changes to how pharmacy can work in line with government guidance on social distancing. “We need to ensure an efficient medicine supply chain; effective patient counselling and messaging and reaching out to the vulnerable including the elderly, care homes, deprived population and key workers,” shared Prof. Patel. Talking about the future strategy, Prof Patel shared how it was needed to have better utilization of the wider pharmacy workforce; look at building greater collaboration and partnership across healthcare disciplines; empowering communities to ensure better understanding planning and delivery of services; working closer with government bodies, key opinion leaders and other healthcare organizations and make better use of digital technology, especially apps.

Dr. Tanveer Naved, Joint Head, AIP, AUUP thanked all the panelists for their deep insights and sharing their views with the students.

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