Christine Clark, BSc, MSc, PhD, FRPharmS, FCPP(Hon)
This issue of HPE coincides with the 40th anniversary of The European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) and we congratulate the organisation on reaching this important milestone. It has come a long way since it was founded by just six country members in 1972 – it now has 31 members. Its mission is to help hospital pharmacists from Europe improve health care through science, practice, sharing best-practice and collaborative actions.
EAHP is not an individual membership organisation like others but a federation of country-based hospital pharmacy organisations from across Europe. Herein lies one of its great strengths – it is in no way a competitor for any of the country organisations but an umbrella organisation that functions on the European stage to represent the voice of hospital pharmacists. To that end EAHP has successfully forged links with a number of European Union bodies including the Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union, the Industrial Pharmacists’ Group and the World Health Organisation’s Europharm Forum.
For many pharmacists the EAHP is best known for its annual scientific congress. Since the first congress in 1996, attendance at the meeting has grown steadily – it now regularly attracts more than 2000 participants and has built a reputation for high-quality content. The program consistently includes topics and speakers that genuinely broaden horizons for the audience and provide them with a great deal of food for thought. This year’s program is no exception.
The plenary sessions have been planned with great care and insight to match the needs and interests of hospital pharmacists today. This is not a congress where you go to hear what you already know but one where you go to be exposed to some new thinking and to hear what you will need to know tomorrow. The first plenary session is a good example; Professor Umberto Veronesi, Scientific Director at the European Institute of Oncology, will discuss the limits of treatment focussing particularly on the ethical implications of new treatment and end-of-life care – issues that are relevant to everyone and which are hotly debated in may quarters.
The second plenary session has the engagingly simple title of ‘Better medicines for children’, but those who have followed the story know that the task of providing suitable medicines for children has been a long and difficult struggle. It is a topic that has often been aired at EAHP congresses and has brought together expert pharmacists from across Europe. They have campaigned hard to argue the case for licensed medicines for paediatric use. However, the task is far from finished yet and the inclusion of the topic this year’s congress is very welcome. The choice of Professor Tony Nunn, Honorary Research Fellow at Institute of Translational Medicine (Child Health) in the University of Liverpool, UK, who has done so much to put this issue on the map, could not be bettered.
The third plenary session will tackle drug safety in geriatric patients – a topic that is relevant to just about everyone’s practice and will probably be of interest to all of us eventually. Professor Petra Thuerman, Director of the Philipp Klee-Institute of Clinical Pharmacology at the Helios Clinic in Wuppertal, Germany, has had a lifelong interest this topic and will surely offer some valuable insights.
I have written before in this column about the value of congresses for the exchange of ideas and experiences between professional colleagues. I have no doubt that the forthcoming congress will be a fitting celebration of the first 40 years of EAHP’s work and will once again help hospital pharmacists from Europe to improve health care through science, practice, sharing best-practice and collaborative actions.