Children from across Northern Ireland are spending this year’s Self Care Week learning about pharmacy awareness.

More than 100 schools are taking part, with pupils from P1 to P7 learning about what it means to be ‘pharmacy aware’.

The Pharmacy Schools Programme, developed by Belfast Healthy Cities and in partnership with the Department of Health, provides children with knowledge and life-skills, enabling them to better understand the role of community pharmacies, what they’re there for and how to use them.

The programme was established to promote self-care as the best choice to treat minor illnesses and to equip children with the information they need to use medicines safely throughout their lives. It also aims to highlight the role of community pharmacy services to treat common childhood ailments such as colds, head lice and hay fever.

In total, more than 45 teachers will attend the training with funding provided by STEM NI.

Joan Devlin, Chief Executive Officer at Belfast Healthy Cities commented:

“The Pharmacy Schools Programme was created to better enable children to understand health professionals and health services, the role of a pharmacist, what common childhood ailments are, and how to access and understand health information.

“Co-produced with a range of organisations across pharmacy, education, health, community and voluntary sectors and academia, the programme includes lesson plans and resources for teachers.”

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for the Department of Health said:

“It’s widely accepted that minor conditions which can be managed without the need for medical intervention are a significant drain on our acute health services, such as GPs and emergency departments. The Pharmacy Schools Programme helps our young people to develop their health literacy and promotes management of minor ailments in the most appropriate care setting, such as community pharmacy.

“As a pharmacist myself, I am delighted that the Pharmacy Schools Programme promotes the important role of pharmacists in providing advice and services to communities across Northern Ireland. A vibrant pharmacy workforce will be critical to ensuring that our priorities for medicines optimisation are met in the years ahead.”