Considerable differences exist in prevalence and mortality rates from COVID-19 across countries due to the extent of prevention measures instigated and their timeliness. There has been considerable controversy surrounding hydroxychloroquine, with resultant misinformation increasing prices and suicides. Prices have also increased for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). There are also growing concerns regarding the unintended consequences from COVID-19 including patients with non-communicable diseases. Consequently, a need to investigate key areas and the preparedness of community pharmacists, who play a key role in Namibia and wider to provide future direction. In view of this, we sought to assess changes in utilisation, prices and shortages of relevant medicines early in the pandemic in Namibia combined with the preparedness of community pharmacists to deal with key issues to guide future activities. This was achieved via a questionnaire survey among 55 pharmacists from March to end June 2020 including suggestions on potential ways forward and comparisons with other African and Asian countries. We found limited increases in the utilisation of antimalarials and antibiotics in Namibia versus Bangladesh, Ghana, and Nigeria, enhanced by restrictions on self-purchasing in Namibia reflected by limited price rises and shortages. This is encouraging. Higher use of vitamin C/ immune boosters in Ghana and Nigeria versus Namibia reflected in higher price rises, with increased utilisation and prices of PPE across a range of African and Asian countries. Encouragingly limited increases in herbal medicine use in Namibia. Future roles of community pharmacists in pandemics include education, good stock control, and screening. More research is needed assessing the unintended consequences of COVID-19.
- community pharmacy