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Thursday, April 4, 2019

How a community-based pharmacy is established in rural Honduras is as important as the services it provides

By providing medicines and medical supplies that support a variety of health facilities in Honduras, including more than 500 community-based pharmacies in remote areas of the country, HOPE International Development Agency is helping address a chronic lack of health care in the country.

Establishing a community-based pharmacy in a remote area provides a unique opportunity for people to work together to create a sustainable solution to one of the most persistent challenges they face – a lack of basic health care.

Before a community-based pharmacy is established in a community, HOPE’s local partner visits the community and speaks with residents regarding their health care needs.

If health care services in the area where the community is located are lacking – a far too common occurrence – the community is asked to collectively decide if the establishment of a pharmacy in the area would be beneficial.

The process of deciding is important because it enables community members to voice their health needs and help establish which medicines will best meet the needs of the community. Equally importantly, it gives community members ownership of the pharmacy and the health outcomes associated with the pharmacy.

As part of the process, one community member volunteers to run the pharmacy out of his or her home. Once a volunteer is agreed upon, staff from HOPE’s local partner provide the volunteer with training, equipment, manuals, and ongoing support through medical professionals.

The volunteer pharmacist stocks the community-based pharmacy with medicines and medical supplies provided by HOPE, offers free consultations and diagnoses, and provides basic treatments for a pharmacy dispensing fee.

Community-based pharmacies bring many positive changes to the communities where they are established. People are no longer forced to journey many hours to reach the nearest health clinic, nearly eliminating the cost of transportation and time spent traveling. They are also able to receive immediate help, reducing the potential for health complications which can have negative consequences. Medications, when needed, are provided at a minimal cost, enabling people to save their hard-earned income for other necessities. Being healthy, as a result of having a volunteer-run pharmacy in their community enables people to pursue opportunities to increase their income generating activities, bringing them closer to self-reliance.