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Community pharmacies help treat diarrhoea and vomiting

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A three-year health programme in community pharmacies aimed at reducing risks of dehydration due to gastroenteritis in children, is proving its worth throughout the MidCentral region.

Funded by MidCentral District Health Board, the community pharmacy Paediatric Gastroenteritis Service is available to children aged three months to 16 years of age, allowing specially trained community pharmacists to assess children suffering from gastroenteritis, while providing treatment and education for mild cases at no cost to the family.

The service is provided by all MidCentral community pharmacies and has been used by over 400 children, with the majority of these being managed within the pharmacy.

Another feature of the programme is that along with the patient’s general practitioner, MidCentral District Health Board’s Public Health Unit is notified of any cases of gastroenteritis, providing another method of detecting an outbreak.

Portfolio manager, clinical support Gopyraj Sundararajah said: “Major benefits of this service are that the assessment and treatment are easy, fast, and free at the local pharmacy. I think visiting the local pharmacy first for the gastroenteritis assessment will potentially save unnecessary worry and waiting time at hospital or GP practices for parents.” 

MidCentral District Health Board Paediatrician Dr Jeff Brown said: “With education and training linking hospital paediatricians, community child health nurses and community pharmacists, and consistent with treatment of gastroenteritis in the Emergency Department, every health professional has confidence in each other’s assessment and management.  If pharmacy-supplied rehydration is not sufficient, the very few children needing hospital treatment arrive in better condition and have a shorter stay.”

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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