ACCESSIBILITY AND AVAILABILITY OF PHARMACEUTICAL CARE IN COMMUNITY PHARMACIES IN THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC. AN EVIDENCE-BASED STUDY FROM 1998 TO 2014
Community pharmacies are one of the parts of health care system and contribute to the public health and health promotion. Currently ongoing changes affect the functionality of the whole health care system. Current health care system is very sensitive to any change that might influence the wide range of parameters in the provision of pharmaceutical care. The number of pharmaceutical care providers particularly is a crucial parameter that should constantly be monitored and analyzed, especially in relation to demographic and geographic characteristics. The total number of community pharmacies, population to pharmacy ratio, and area to pharmacy ratio represent some of the parameters used for the evaluation of pharmaceutical care efficiency and are vulnerable to changes with powerful regulatory potential. In 1998, there were 952 community pharmacies in the Slovak Republic, the population to pharmacy ratio amounted to 5 552 and the area to pharmacy ratio amounted to 52.5. Gradually, the number of community pharmacies has increased and in some regions redoubled. This has resulted in a decline of population to pharmacy ratio and area to pharmacy ratio in all regions of the Slovak Republic (p<0.05). The most meaningful change in the development trend of the selected ratios occurred in 2005 (p <0.05). The number of community pharmacies culminated in 2012 (1612 community pharmacies; 3352 population to pharmacy ratio and 30.5 area to pharmacy ratio). In 2014, the Slovak Republic had 1598 community pharmacies, 3394 population to pharmacy ratio and 30.8 area to pharmacy ratio. The accessibility and availability expressed by the number, ratio and location of pharmacies in the Slovak Republic is perceived positively. The concerns regarding the economic stability of pharmacies and also long-term maintenance of the current accessibility and availability of pharmacies are presented.
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