PM2.5 and the Role of the Pharmacist in a Changing Climate

Bangkok traffic

Bangkok entered 2019 with critically unsafe levels of air pollution caused partly by heavy traffic, construction, crop burning, and coal-based electricity generation. The most concerning pollutant in the city’s air is known as PM 2.5, which is small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory damage. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is a serious and widespread health risk, and has been placed as a top-priority threat to be taken up in 2019.

We need the help of pharmacists to tackle environmental changes

The Thai government responded to Bangkok’s public health crisis in various ways, one of which involved using planes and firetrucks to spray thousands of liters of water into the air in an attempt to get rid of pollutants. Other efforts to combat the rising air pollution need to come from pharmacists, whose role in public health is evolving to be more patient-centered.

Indeed, as pharmacists become more involved in their communities, they will have an important role to play in spreading awareness about environmental dangers. For example, pharmacists should know the 4 main health hazards of air pollution and should share this information with their patients so that people feel compelled to take necessary precautions— like buying the N95 face mask designed to prevent PM 2.5 particles from entering the body.

face mask
The N95 face mask, sold at pharmacies and convenience stores, prevents PM 2.5 pollution particles from entering the body.

SwipeRx used by pharmacists to improve readiness against pollution and other environmental threats

mClinica developed SwipeRx, the largest digital community of pharmacists in Southeast Asia, which can be used to help pharmacists serve their patients under altered environmental conditions. Thus far, SwipeRx has provided over 125,000 pharmacy professionals with features useful to their daily practice, namely: accredited CPD modules, news and announcements, collaboration with colleagues through messaging boards, case reporting/referrals, and even a drug directory.

Currently, we are using SwipeRx in Thailand to bring important pharmaceutical news updates to community pharmacists. With the help of SwipeRx, we are training and educating pharmacists for their evolving roles in public health, as well as improving their capacity to respond to environmental challenges, like air pollution, that pose enormous public health risks.