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Belfast Healthy Cities

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Healthy Cities 21st Century

Launch of Pharmacy Schools Resource

A new resource which teaches school children about the role of community pharmacies and the health information and support they can provide has been launched. The Pharmacy Schools Programme launched by the Minister for Health, Robin Swann, along with the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Cathy Harrison was developed by Belfast Healthy Cities working in partnership with the Department of Health. 

The aim of the Pharmacy Schools Programme interactive resource, is to promote self-care and raise awareness of medication safety with school children. It also aims to highlight the role of community pharmacy services to treat minor childhood ailments such as colds, head lice and hay fever. The resource follows a health literacy approach and was developed and piloted with primary schools in Belfast.

Primary schools across Northern Ireland can avail of the programme, with the resources provided for Primary 1 – Primary 7. The dedicated teaching resource includes lesson plans to support delivery of the Northern Ireland Curriculum and has been co-produced with a range of organisations across pharmacy, education, health, academia and community and voluntary sectors.

The Pharmacy Schools Programme was also developed to support the delivery of the Medicines Optimisation Quality Framework and Transforming medication safety in Northern Ireland strategy which aims to reduce severe avoidable harm from the use of medicines.

The Health Minister, Robin Swann, in his opening address at the launch of the programme said: “I am excited by the prospect of such an innovative resource being made available for use in our primary schools and I am certain that the use of a health literacy approach will raise much needed awareness on the importance of self-care and medication safety. I feel it is important that primary school children are able to avail of the learning opportunities that programmes like this provide.  The provision of a structured health literacy approach whereby children will be able learn about the health system, will allow them to critically appraise the health information available to them and to practice shared decision-making. This I feel, is an essential skill that children must learn to develop early in their lives as it can positively influence health behaviour across their life course”.

Speaking at the launch, Belfast Healthy Cities Chief Executive, Joan Devlin, said “Educating children about self-care and the role of a pharmacy from a young age is an extremely important way to provide them with an understanding of how to look after their health and reduce the worries that common ailments may bring.  This programme is a positive step to prevent the misuse of medication and help children make informed decisions around their health, which will help to play an important role in easing pressures on the health service in future.

Also speaking at the launch, the Department of Health’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Cathy Harrison, said “This programme raises much needed awareness on the importance of self-care and medication safety whilst it also highlights the importance of the services and advice that is available through our community pharmacies for most minor ailments. Fundamentally, health literacy is a way to help and support families maintain health, better understand health conditions and the options available for self-care during minor self-limiting illness. Increased health literacy and access to good health-related information are necessary for people to see themselves as the co-producers of, and in control of decisions that have an effect on their own health. It is clear that this programme supports the Department’s goals for improving population health outcomes, by ensuring that we continue to recognise the importance of self-care and that we take steps to ensure the safe use of medicines across our population and health service.”

Find out more about the Pharmacy Schools Programme 

Launch Presentation

Photo Gallery