How community pharmacists are responding during COVID-19 in Malaysia: A
Background Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by severe
acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), has resulted in
profound health challenges across the globe. Objective This
study aims to examine community pharmacists’ views on their work
environment, policies, and preparedness for safe retail patronage to
prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Setting An online survey
of pharmacists practicing in community pharmacy setting in Malaysia.
Method A questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study was
conducted in Malaysia to evaluate coping strategies of community
pharmacists and pharmaceutical services provided during COVID-19
pandemic. Between May 1 and July 31, 2020, the questionnaire was
distributed to pharmacists working in community setting nationwide
utilizing a snowball sampling method. Main outcome measure
Community pharmacists’ perceptions on safety, resilience, organizational
support, and pharmaceutical services offered during COVID-19 pandemic.
Results A total of 217 pharmacists participated in the study.
Most community pharmacists had reported a positive outlook and were able
to balance working with self-care during this period. Most had reported
to have access to personal protective equipment such as gloves and hand
sanitizers. A large proportion of community pharmacies also installed
physical barriers in doorways or in front of the counter, put markings
on the ground to section areas to ensure physical distancing, and
controlled the number of customers who could access the pharmacy during
this period. Innovations reported to be implemented included
teleconsultations and providing curb-side or drive-through delivery and
pickups. Conclusion The findings suggest the front-line and
essential roles of community pharmacists in delivering pandemic
responses, creating the opportunity to determine areas where community
pharmacy services can be incorporated to strengthen the public health
system and improve patient health outcomes.