MIASA Launches Young Advocates for Mental Health Programme on International Women’s Day


In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA) hosted a half-day event at Royale Chulan, The Curve (Kuala Lumpur) on March 11, 2023.


The theme of International Women’s Day this year, ‘Transcending All Boundaries: Be Revolutionary’,  calls for the championing of efforts that will empower women in spite of continuing challenges faced across many sectors of society.

The Founder and President of MIASA, Puan Anita Abu Bakar, outlines the different barriers faced by women due to various cultural and societal norms, which are further compounded and exacerbated for those who have a particular disability or struggles with their mental health.

“When women find it hard to talk about difficult feelings, they tend to internalize them,” she says. “This can lead to depression, eating disorders, and self-harm.

She shares that past statistics indicated that around 1 in 5 women faces a mental health challenge such as depression and anxiety.

“So, today, we want to let every woman know that there is help, there is support, there is recovery when facing mental health issues. No one has to struggle alone. You don’t have to struggle alone,” she asserts.


While MIASA champions and supports the efforts to empower women across various social and political sectors of life in Malaysia, the association also is well aware that mental health issues do not discriminate based on one’s gender.

Hence, to achieve the goals and objectives of the association, Puan Anita highlights that broad discussions of gender stereotypes and gender equity should not be restricted to only barriers faced by women.

“In our work within the mental health field in particular, we have a front-row seat to witness the harmful effects gender stereotypes can have not only on women but men too, namely when it comes to expressing one’s feelings. For example, we know that many young boys are implicitly taught to believe that they need to ‘man up’ and that crying is a sign of weakness for example,” she explains.

“So let’s take this opportunity to acknowledge those barriers and boundaries as well, and ensure that all of us, man and woman alike, work harmoniously together to ensure gender equity from all sides,” she concludes.


This inaugural programme from MIASA will build on the importance of building a generation free of stigma and discrimination—the zero stigma generation.

The MIASA Young Advocates for Mental Health programme is a 6-month programme that provides a platform for young people to:

  • Learn about mental health and mental health conditions
  • Understand the stigma and discrimination around mental health
  • Acquire qualities and skills of an effective advocate
  • Receive access to the different resources that support people struggling with mental health issues.

“It is a programme that also goes beyond acquiring knowledge; it provides participants hands-on experience with mental health peers through the shadowing sessions,” Puan Anita further elaborates.

For more information on MIASA and its mental health services as well as programmes, you can visit their website by clicking here (link opens in a new tab).

Expert Coalition to Educate Malaysians & Prevent Another COVID-19 Surge


As we welcomed 2023, China reported a huge spike in daily COVID-19 cases during the end of year holiday seasons 2022.

After a period of pandemic fatigue and indifference, the event sparked sudden and short-lived fear and caution among the global as well as Malaysian community.

The news triggered some Malaysians to be up in arms, calling for a ban on travellers from China and reinforcement of pandemic SOPs such as the mandatory wearing of mask in public areas.

Nonetheless, the interest soon died down as other headlines made their way in the news.

It appears that it is only when crises are about to hit our shores that we react.

In fact, as highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), we need to always be prepared and cannot afford to be reactive.

On January 27, 2023, it announced and reminded member countries that COVID-19 remains a public health emergency of international concern.

WHO compared 28-days data between Dec 5, 2022 to Jan 1, 2023 and Jan 2 to Jan 29, 2023.

It found that although the number of cases reported decreased by 78%, the number of deaths increased steeply by 65%.

This result is mainly due to the large wave of cases and deaths in the Western Pacific Region, especially in China.

WHO further states that the numbers may be an underestimation due to the reduction in testing and delay in reporting in many countries.


3 years into the pandemic, Malaysia has reported more than 5 million cases and over 36,000 deaths.

In 2021, it became the main cause of death in Malaysia, overtaking heart disease.

The risk of death is higher among:

  • Those above 60 years
  • Individuals with underlying health conditions
  • Unvaccinated individuals

According to MOH data between Jan 1, 2022 to July 31, 2022, 75% of COVID-19 deaths were among individuals 60 years and above, and 86% of deaths were among those with at least one underlying health condition .

Compared to the first year of pandemic, we are now more prepared to curb COVID-19 due to advancement in preventive measures, rapid diagnoses, and management tools such as vaccination, rapid test kits (RTK) as well as early treatment with antivirals.

These tools are important particularly to prevent severe COVID-19, keeping individuals especially those with risk factors away from hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and ultimately death.

Nonetheless, these tools will only be useful if they are being utilized optimally.

While Malaysians were quick on the uptake of primary COVID-19 vaccination doses, the uptake of booster doses are very poor with only 49.7% uptake of the 1st booster and a mere 1.6% of the 2nd booster (as of Feb 7, 2023) .

While no concrete data is available, there are good reasons to believe that due to pandemic fatigue, people are now less likely to test and seek treatment for COVID-19.

It is also important to note that antiviral treatment needs to be taken within the first 5 days of symptom onset. Thus, speed is of the essence.

We cannot risk another surge of COVID-19 globally or locally as it would put a toll on our healthcare system and risk overwhelming it.

In addition to COVID-19, we are also facing the threat of other respiratory illnesses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

As it stands, we are currently experiencing overcrowding in Emergency Departments.

Hence, it is crucial that we answer the calls of WHO and the Ministry of Health Malaysia to continue urging the public especially those who are in the high-risk groups (older persons, individuals with underlying medical conditions) to take precautions against COVID-19.


The Malaysian Society of Infection Control and Infectious Diseases (MyICID) in collaboration with the Family Medicine Association Malaysia (FMSA) and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) are organising an educational campaign themed COVID-19: QUICKLY TEST & TREAT.

Our objectives

This campaign aims to urge the public especially individuals who are at high-risk as well as their family members to continue protecting themselves and others from severe COVID-19 by:

  • Getting primary and booster doses
  • Testing immediately upon onset of symptoms
  • Seeking early treatment, within the first five days of symptoms

Our campaign’s panel of experts

  • Dr Alif Adlan Mohd Thabit Infectious disease physician
  • Dr Ang Peng Peng Infectious disease physician
  • Dr Suriani Sulaiman Family medicine specialist
  • Dr Balachandran S Krishnan General practitioner


Have Diabetes? Here’s an Improved Way to Track Your Blood Sugars


Continuous glucose monitoring (often abbreviated as CGM) is basically a system that allows one’s blood glucose levels to be monitored automatically.


This system opens up a world of opportunities for better blood glucose management for people with type 1 diabetes as well as those on type 2 diabetes that require insulin.

After all, with information of their blood glucose levels that can be obtained immediately, they can make quick informed decisions about their food choices and the dosage of their insulin as well as when to administer it.


The ability to observe the pattern of the rise and fall of their blood glucose also allows them to be alert of the possibility of a hypo- or hyperglycaemic episode, and take prompt measures accordingly.


Additionally, continuous glucose monitoring can also benefit people with kidney problems as well as pregnant women worried about gestational diabetes.


It’s really not surprising, therefore, that the 23rd Hong Kong Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risk Factors—East Meets West Symposium reported a growing consensus on the definitions and targets of continuous glucose monitoring metrics to allow healthcare professionals and people with diabetes to make full use of this system in diabetes management.

Indeed, the United Kingdom has already taken steps to do this.

All in all, this is a remarkable example of how technology is making diabetes management, which can be complex and confusing to some people, considerably easier to figure out and implement correctly!

Continuous glucose monitoring is a feature in certain types of blood glucose monitor or glucometer. You can talk to your doctor or your pharmacist for more information on continuous glucose monitoring and whether you can benefit from using a glucometer that comes with this feature.

Reference: Oliver, N., Chow, E., Luk, A. O. Y., & Murphy, H. (2023). Applications of continuous glucose monitoring across settings and populations: report from the 23rd Hong Kong Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risk Factors – East Meets West Symposium. Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association, e15038. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.15038

Experts Pave the Way to Improve Outcome of Osteoporosis in Malaysia


On January 17, 2023, Malaysian Osteoporosis Society (MOS), the Academy of Medicine Malaysia, and our Ministry of Health launched their jointly-published 3rd Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) for the Management of Osteoporosis.

In the media briefing held in conjunction with this launch, our Director General of Health Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah shares that:

  • Malaysians are now growing older and living longer. As a result of this, many of us will be affected by age-related non-communicable diseases, which includes osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis results in bone fractures, which are associated with disability and premature death.
An illustration of osteoporosis. Click on the image for a larger, clearer version.

A 2020 study revealed that all people with hip fractures, upon treatment and discharge from the hospital, need walking aids.

6 months later, only 24% (that’s about 1 out of 4 people) regain their mobility and their ability to live independently.

Another 26% die within one year after the fracture.

Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah voices his concern that osteoporosis is a serious disease that requires early detection, intervention, and management even at later stages.

This is especially relevant, as the incidence of hip fractures is projected to rise from 5,880 in 2018 to 20,893 in 2050, a 3.6-fold increase!


Dr Yeap Swan Sim, the current President of the Malaysian Osteoporosis Society, states that the cornerstone principles in ensuring that Malaysians can age healthily and gracefully while minimizing the threat of osteoporosis are:

  • Understanding the disease
  • Taking preventive measures
  • Good management of osteoporosis
  • Knowing the appropriate surgical options, should these options become necessary

Dr Terence Ong Ing Wei points out that osteoporosis usually happens in older people and is almost as common as diabetes. “Diabetes evokes fear and concern, yet most people wouldn’t give osteoporosis a second though,” he muses.

Many people often assume that bones weaken and falls and fractures become more common because all these are a ‘natural’ part of ageing.

Dr Terence disagrees, stating that there is nothing natural about osteoporisis.

In fact, it is actually a very complex condition influenced by many factors. “Some things that we do not think too much about in our everyday lives have a huge impact on our bone health. These include physical inactivity, fad diets, cigarette smoking, and age-related hormonal changes such as oestrogen in ageing women and testosterone in men. All these increase the rate of bone loss at a time when strong bones are most needed.”


Dr Yeap says, “We usually only see osteoporosis at its late stages—after a fracture has occurred. By then, the patient would have incurred significant amounts of bone loss. At that stage, it is no longer possible to offer treatments to replace the lost bone, which is the ideal scenario. Instead, treatment options will instead attempt to minimize the detrimental effects of a fracture experienced by the patient.”

“Clearly, we should be giving more emphasis to screening and early detection, followed by suitable interventions so that we can protect the most vulnerable persons from this terrible illness,” she adds.


Professor Emerita Chan Siew Pheng concurs with the other experts. “This is because mainly because you don’t even realise osteoporosis is there until you suffer from a fracture. So, the only way to know if you have osteoporosis before a fracture occurs, is by going for a bone density scan, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, DEXA or DXA.

More about bone density scan
Prof Chan explains that the bone density scan is a quick and painless X-ray procedure that allows doctors to find out whether osteoporosis is present.

It also allows doctors to predict the risk of future fractures in order to provide timely and suitable treatment. “This would save you so much trouble in the future!” she says.

According to Prof Chan, women aged 65 years or older and men 70 years or older should have a DXA scan done every two years.

Younger individuals may also need to be screened if they have certain conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, nutritional malabsorption, eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, or are taking certain medications (like steroids) long term.

If you fall into any of these categories, you should consult your doctor for more information as to how you can benefit from a DXA scan.

With the right steps at the right time, osteoporosis can be effectively managed 
Prof Chan explains: “There are effective medicines that can be tailored to suit all sorts of patients based on their disease stage and lifestyle. Moreover, whenever pharmacological treatment is necessary, the medications that are available in Malaysia can reduce the risk of fractures from 15% up to 70%!”

She adds that these anti-osteoporosis medicines are generally well-tolerated and effective.


Dr Yeap Swan Sim shares that this clinical practice guidelines, meant for healthcare professionals in Malaysia, consists of evidence-based statements intended to assist healthcare providers in optimizing patient care.

“We must first recognize the fact that osteoporosis is a multi-factorial condition,” she says. “Nutrition, age, hormone, lifestyle and the presence of pre-existing disease are some of the aspects that can affect bone health. All these requires not only input from one profession but multiple of them in order to provide patients with proper and effective care.”

She adds: “As such, the clinical practice guidelines had to be written by a panel of experts from all the related disciplines, such as nutrition, geriatrics, endocrinology, orthopaedic surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, rheumatology, primary care and pharmacy. The wide variety of expertise involved in the writing of the clinical practice guidelines ensures extensive coverage so that the guidelines will be able to inform all types of healthcare professionals who would be involved in the screening, diagnosing and treatment of osteoporosis.”

The 3rd Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) for the Management of Osteoporosis was the fruit of the labour of the CPG Working Group comprising:

  • Dr Yeap Swan Sim (Chairperson)
  • Dr Terence Ong Ing Wei (Co-chairperson)
  • Associate Professor Dr Lim Lee Ling (Co-chairperson)
  • Professor Emerita Dr Chan Siew Pheng
  • Professor Datuk Dr Sabarul A Mokhtar

Interested healthcare professionals can download the 3rd Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) for the Management of Osteoporosis by clicking here. This link will open in a new tab.

Highlights of the Safe Medication Disposal Practices Roundtable


Alpro Pharmacy hosted an industry roundtable, called Safe Medication Disposal Practices in Malaysia–Past, Present & Future, on 15th December 2022 at Monash University Malaysia.

  • According to Foon Hwei Foong from Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild, unwanted medications disposed into landfills are reabsorbed by water streams. This means that these medications eventually leads back to the water that we drink.
  • Dr Saw Pui San, a lecturer from Monash University Malaysia’s School of Pharmacy, cited how irresponsibly discarded contraceptive medicines ended up in our waterways and caused the sterilization of fishes.
  • Antibiotics are strictly regulated prescription medication, and many efforts were made to prevent antibiotic resistance. However, another often overlooked possible cause of antibiotic resistance is the leakage of improperly discarded antibiotics into our water systems.
  • Amrahi Buang, President of the Malaysian Pharmacists Society, stated that laws and policies are in place across all access points of medication distribution in this country, with the Malaysian National Medicines Policy (MNPP) clearly stating the measurements and governance in place for medication safety.
  • He opined that health and medication literacy is still lacking within the Malaysia public, hence the need for an pharmaceutical industry medium to act as an education platform for the public.
  • Furthermore, he stated that pharmacists are strongly encouraged to start working collaboratively with their colleagues as well as other key players in the pharmaceutical industry to educate on, implement, and practice safe medication disposal.
  • Ostwin Paw, the CEO of Alpro Foundation, called for leaders in the industry to kickstart the conversation on the impact and risks of unsafe medication disposal methods on the environment.
  • Lim En Ni, the Chief Pharmacist of Alpro Pharmacy, shared that Alpro Pharmacy launched the Safe Medication Disposal campaign in 2021 in a joint effort with several key pharmaceutical companies in the country.
  • To date, the initiative has safely disposed more than 1,000 kg of medication waste as well as garnered more than 100,000 signatures from the community pledging their support within 3 months since July 2022.
One of the key initiatives of the Safe Medication Disposal campaign is the placement of dedicated medication disposal bins at all Alpro Pharmacy outlets nationwide to collect excess medicines for proper and ethical disposal. For more information on this as well as on proper medical disposal, click here to visit the Safe Medical Disposal Campaign webpage (link opens in a new tab).

Diabetes Experts Reflect on Present & Future Diabetes Awareness Efforts



The theme of World Diabetes Day in 2022 is Education to Protect Tomorrow, which calls for the need for better access to quality diabetes education for healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes.

During the recent World Diabetes Day (WDD) 2022 celebration in Putrajaya, which was jointly organized by the Endocrine Institute of Putrajaya Hospital, the Malaysian Endocrine & Metabolic Society (MEMS), and Novo Nordisk Pharma Malaysia, the experts present reflected on the need to raise public awareness among Malaysians on diabetes.

After all, the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey reported 1 in 5 adult Malaysians has type 2 diabetes!


Dato’ Dr Asmayani Khalib, the Deputy Director-General (Medical), Ministry of Health Malaysia, said: “The rising number of people affected by diabetes is putting added strain on healthcare systems. Healthcare professionals require quality diabetes education on how to detect and diagnose the condition early and provide the best possible care; while people living with diabetes need access to ongoing education to understand their condition and carry out the daily self-care essential to staying healthy and avoiding complications.”

Datuk Dr. Zanariah bt Hussein, the Head of the Endocrinology Subspecialty Service of the Malaysian Ministry of Health, felt that, as more Malaysians are diagnosed with diabetes, current efforts need to be doubled to stop this rising number from escalating further.

Access to quality diabetes education is a goal we must all strive in, to educate and empower not only patients and the community but also family members who are providing support and care,” she said.


“The focus on access to diabetes education is a critical aspect that will enable sustainable long-term care, with both healthcare providers and people living with diabetes receiving quality diabetes education,”  said Richard Abela, the Vice President and General Manager of Novo Nordisk Pharma Malaysia. “This is an essential component of diabetes care as we develop a patient-centric approach in care, that is sustainable for lifelong chronic disease management.”

Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Receives Honorary Degree


We would like to express our heartiest congratulations to  Her Royal Highness Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan binti Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shahwas.

On November 17, she was conferred an Honorary Degree, ‘Doctor of the University’, by Heriot-Watt University Malaysia at the Putrajaya Marriott Hotel today.


HRH Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan is the eldest daughter of His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah.

She is a well-known and well-respected mental health activist and advocate in Malaysia as well as the international stage.

Just a few of her recent accomplishments and advocacy milestones are:

  • Appointed as World Federation for Mental Health Representative to the United Nations in New York in 2021
  • Appointed by WHO as the International Patron of World Mental Health Day for 2020-2021
  • Co-founder of the mental health awareness and advocacy platform Green Ribbon Group (link opens in a new tab)

Heriot-Watt University presented the Honorary Degree to HRH Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan in recognition of Her Royal Highness’role as an inspirational, purpose-driven leader committed to championing mental health in Malaysia and globally.


“The Honorary Degree from Heriot-Watt University is a win for my noble cause of championing mental health,” Her Royal Highness Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan said during the ceremony. “I am pleased to be recognised for the positive impact of my efforts, and this momentous occasion has reminded me once again of why I decided to champion the mental health agenda. I am dedicated to continuing my efforts to have a positive impact on mental health and to create an environment that is filled with compassion, love, and encouragement, especially for those who feel alone in their battles.”

She reiterated that pushing the mental health agenda forward will set in motion actionable steps towards breaking negative cycles and habits, and their transmission between the current generation and future ones.

“I would like to build a world where our youth are supported to become the very best version of themselves, so they are able to contribute to society and become even better parents to their children. This is my hope for my children, Zayn and Aleya, too,” she said.

Empowering Pharmacists to Better Serve The Nation


For the longest time, the role of a pharmacist has been seen by many, even among those in the profession, as retailer of supplements and other healthcare products. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general public have come to recognize the values community pharmacists bring.


Very often, patients with multiple non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were prescribed with medications by different doctors, they might not be aware of possible medical contradictions. They brought these medications to community pharmacists like me, and we helped them review and explain the dosage and possible side effects of each medicine. Most importantly, pharmacists ensure the safety of patients from medication errors.


Pharmacies are usually open for long hours and pharmacists offer informal, appointment-free consultation. At the height of the pandemic when clinics and hospitals required COVID-19 screening prior to consultation with doctors and patients avoided going to high-risk places, community pharmacists filled the gap by offering advice on COVID-19 and other health related matters including basic health screening and re-filling much needed chronic prescriptions through collaboration with telemedicine providers.


In recent years, many product-based retail pharmacists have transited to community pharmacists with solution-based services, such as wound-care, smoking cessation service, and diabetic-care.


It is high time for the Government to endorse community pharmacists as an integral part of community health and wellness by allocating funding for programmes in support of the Government’s efforts in creating a smoke-free generation, battling against NCDs and providing preventive care for the ageing population.

The inclusion of community pharmacists in the Government’s outreach plan will benefit the country as a whole, as it will ultimately reduce medical costs, improve population health, increase the quality of healthcare in Malaysia and contribute to the country’s GDP.

This year, The International Pharmaceutical Federation announced the theme of World Pharmacist Day 2022 as “Pharmacy United in Action for a Healthier World”. This theme invites comrades from all sectors of the pharmacy profession to take part in the campaign. Regardless of culture or point of view, the core duty of every pharmacist remains—to safeguard medication safety for everyone.

Reflections of a Pharmacist on Solidarity, Price Wars & Public Service



The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. They do not reflect the opinions of his colleagues, associates, employer, and organizations he is affiliated with.


The official theme of the year is ‘Pharmacy united in action for a healthier world’.

The aim of this theme is to showcase the positive impact of pharmacists on health around the world and to further strengthen solidarity among the profession.

The keywords here are ‘united’ and ‘positive impact’.


In today’s healthcare landscape, pharmacists find themselves playing a new role, bestowed upon them by the public: they are the fact checkers and encyclopaedia for members of the public when it comes to everything and anything related to health. In other words, pharmacists are the new Alexa or Siri whenever someone has a question about health!

Pharmacists didn’t necessarily ask for or want this role, but it is one thrust upon us by a public that not only view us as the most accessible healthcare professionals in our society—members of the public also develop a trust in our knowledge after forming a rapport with us.

Our clients usually just walk into our outlet and obtain valuable health advice easily, with low or no cost at all.

With the advent of social media, we tend to become THE go-to person they talk to whenever they want to verify a health claim or ask about the latest health fad.

How pharmacists can step up for this role

To perform this role well, pharmacists need to be competent in their core field of pharmacotherapy, as well as to know a bit of everything in the realm of healthcare.

This is not a small feat to achieve, but it’s one that we need, to be able to guide our clients, or at least point them to the correct direction when there is no direct answer to their queries.

Having good research and analytical skills and keeping up with current updates are the 2 main paths for a pharmacist to become a good source of information.

Apart from pharmacists taking the initiative to do the necessary, our universities play a big role in instilling these skills in our pharmacy undergraduates, to enable them to cope with this new demand. So perhaps our fellow academicians can put more emphasis in this aspect.

Does it make a difference though, if we play this new role well?

Yes. Immensely.

In this world of information overload (or rather the age of misinformation), any Tom, Dick, and Harry can broadcast ‘health advice’ on social media.

As a result, members of the public are bombarded with equal amounts of information and misinformation.

Not everyone will be able to separate fact from fiction, even after googling for the answers, perhaps due to a lack of understanding of the information they found or to use the information to make an informed conclusion.

Pharmacists with years of training and experience will be in a better position to help members of the public digest complex terms and ideas into simple statements that they can more readily absorb. Even more so for the elderly and uneducated.

So, being a trusted point of reference is of utmost importance for our society right now. Apart from carrying out our core duties of being the custodians of medications, this new role positions us to impact the health of the world most significantly, positively.


Then we arrive at the other key aspect of this year’s theme: unity.

Unity is not something we commonly see among retail or community pharmacies. The supposed fellowship and camaraderie had eroded more substantially in the recent years, mainly due to the intense competition between big pharmacy chains as well as price wars.

Competition was originally thought to be a positive force in keeping market prices low for the benefit of the consumer. However, when competition goes too far, it becomes unhealthy to both the profession and the consumer.

‘Tribal war’ among pharmacists?

Pharmacists have become more and more hostile to their counterparts from another ‘tribe’, due to the aforementioned competition.

They view each other as adversaries or even enemies, instead of colleagues.

This hinders cooperation between pharmacy groups. Even in times of medication shortage, a pharmacist is less likely to seek cooperation/help from other ‘tribes’, which in turn negatively impacts their clients’ welfare and the image of our profession.

Furthermore, smaller pharmacies not belonging to any big ‘tribes’ sometimes face unnecessary hostility from bigger tribes when these tribes migrate and open next to them en masse.

Almost in every town you can see 4 to 5 different pharmacies opening in the same stretch of shop-houses, and price wars inevitably make it near impossible for a stand-alone pharmacists to practice their trade professionally.

Still, price wars are good for the consumer… right?

Unfortunately this is not always true.

With drug prices being sold at cost or below cost, businesses have to to obtain profits through alternate channels. These channels can be additional sales of legitimate products or from some other less-ideal methods.

Either way, the interest of the client is not going to be the main focus anymore. Instead, sales, incentives, and targets take precedence over the client’s genuine needs.

This is NOT what most pharmacists want, but the nature of the industry is forcing more and more of them to sing to this tune. Furthermore, the end game for many price wars is monopolistic in nature, where absurd profits are to be reaped after a dominant force appears.

But what can pharmacists do about this? How do we unite?

Needless to say, it is going to be a gargantuan task, but we have to start somewhere.

Stay professional. Always be a pharmacist first, retailer or businessman second. I’m not asking you to go on strike or forego profits. Just be sure to put our client’s needs first in our every consideration.

From here, build bonds with your fellow pharmacists. Meet more pharmacists outside your workplace, so that you can find solutions to each other’s weaknesses. Cooperation not only benefits our customers in the long run; it also changes our views on competition.

Maintain mutual respect and keep competition healthy. Compete with each other to be the better pharmacist, to see who elevates our healthcare to a higher level. Don’t just compete in terms of profit and loss.

It’s up to us to create the future we want to live in. I always say I don’t want to grow old one day and have to doubt the advice given by my pharmacist for the fear of being ripped off or being coerced into buying something.

Talk to your management. Voice out what you feel is right or wrong whenever you have the opportunity. This doesn’t have to be confrontational, if we do it the right way. Only when there are enough voices saying the same thing, will things start to change.

Lastly, do actively support our professional body. With enough support and the right mindset, our profession can be more united to under this body, and we can all serve the public better.


Cherish and support any pharmacist that gives you more value for your health rather than your wallet.

Granted, price is a big deciding factor when making any purchase, but as long as the difference is not too big, always support the one that truly cares for your health.

Hopefully with changes in the mindsets of both pharmacists and clients, the big divide caused by price and competition will slowly narrow and allow pharmacists can be more united in serving the public positively.

Superdads, Assemble!

Superdads, Assemble!

May 8, 2022   Return


Cathie Wu

MA Coun Psy (CAN, USA)

Director and Counselling Psychologist



Just like mothers, fathers are irreplaceable. Traditionally the father is viewed more as a breadwinner, but the truth is, he has just as much significant impact on the emotional development of a child. Most children view their father as a superhero, the protector and the bedrock who fixes all problems in their lives. Perhaps paradoxically, a father also tends to fixate on his role as a breadwinner, sometimes to the point of being emotionally absent from the child’s life.

This month, we join counselling psychologist Cathie Wu as she takes a look at how a father can be a superhero to his child without having to  develop literal superpowers. After all, the true strength of a father isn’t measured by whether or not he can fly or hold up a bus with one hand—it lies within his heart.


“I try to live my life like my father lives his. He always takes care of everyone else first. He won’t even start eating until he’s sure everyone else in the family has started eating. Another thing: my dad never judges me by whether I win or lose.”

American footballer Ben Roethlisberger

Much has been said about a father’s responsibilities. He is a breadwinner, just like Mom. He is a pillar of strength and a bedrock of support. He teaches life’s valuable lessons, but he allows his children to learn from mistakes. The list goes on and it may seem intimidating especially to first-time fathers.

However, being a father is not about following a set of rules. It’s about living out the experience, appreciating the ups and learning from the downs of fatherhood.

Cathie Wu offers a few tips on getting the hang of a father’s responsibilities.

Work as a team with your partner. Fathers and mothers often have different roles within and outside of the family.

Being responsible as a parent will always mean that the parental team must be  united. For a father, this will include a commitment to communicate to his wife and children, and to have discussions on how to share parenting roles.

Resist making promises that sound good but can’t be delivered. It’s okay to proceed slowly and steadily in demonstrating responsibility and reliability.

Being a father is never about solely providing for the family. It’s also about providing enough love, attention and support to make a positive difference ina child’s life.

According to 2017 statistics from the US Census Bureau, children in the US raised in a household without a father are

  • More likely to have behavioural problems (including committing crimes) and substance abuse.
  • Twice more likely to drop out of school.
  • Four times more likely to live in poverty.

Hence, a father’s love and affection is arguably as important as—or perhaps even more important than— his ability to provide for the family.

Cathie Wu has some advice for fathers on being the best daddy they can be to their children:

Develop an individual relationship with each child. With multiple children this may be harder but learning about each individual child will help strengthen the parental bond and make each child feel more included.

Learn to understand your child on a deeper level. When an emotionally safe relationship is built, a good father is interested to know their child better.

Understanding has to come before problem-solving. Teach children to be resilient (help them learn how to meet obstacles, address or cope with issues openly, not be demoralized by “failures” but retain a sense of motivation, etc) via good communication as well as leading by example. Children often learn more through observation of others.

Cultivate a good strong marital relationship. Parent can teach kids many valuable lessons about love, respect, loyalty, interpersonal skills, overcoming obstacles, etc through their marital relationship. On the other hand, when the marital relationship is experiencing dissatisfaction, it will invariably affect the kids. So, communicate regularly with loved ones. Show affection through words or physical touch. Make quality time (quality over quantity).


An undervalued trait of fatherhood is a sense of humour. A good sense of humour doesn’t just teaches a man to laugh, it sometimes can help one better cope with the hard knocks in life. A sense of humour also allows the father to view life through different and even unusual perspectives, which in turn helps him become more spontaneous and adaptable.

When balanced with a good sense of responsibility, a father who doesn’t take life too seriously is a steadying presence to the family during a crisis, and a brightening source of joy to all during happier times.

Furthermore, research shows people with a sense of humour tend to have a lower risk of falling into depression. There are also studies that suggest they are better equipped to manage stress, which in turn can have positive benefits to blood pressure, heart rate and possibly the immune system and digestion.

Therefore, it’s fine to be silly and have a laugh now and then. Whether it’s blowing soap bubbles to make a baby laugh or using gentle humour to reassure older kids when they experience failure, it’s all good.

Cathie Wu has some advice on this for fathers.

Look at the big picture. Let go of the concept of perfection and focus on your strengths. Admit that you can and will make mistakes, and so will the people around you— nobody is infallible, after all.

Learn to have a laugh over the trivial stuff. Find your favourite comedian and learn how and when to use a lighthearted perspective on things. HT

“Becoming a father increases your capacity for love and your level of patience. It opens up another door in a person—a door which you may not even have known was there. That’s what I feel with my son. There’s suddenly another level of love that expands. My son is my greatest joy, out of everything in my life.”~ actor Kyle MacLachlan


If you like this article, do subscribe here.