The role of primary care pharmacists in the response to the Zika epidemic

Keywords: Zika Virus Infection, Zika Virus, Epidemics, Pharmacists, Pharmaceutical Services, Professional Role, Counseling, Infant, Pregnant Women, Public Health, Primary Health Care, Qualitative Research, Brazil


Background: Zika virus (ZIKV) infection emerged in Brazil in 2015, leading to the declaration of a national public health emergency, mainly due to its consequences for pregnant women and newborn babies. The Zika epidemic demanded major efforts from the public health system to address the full range of disease consequences.

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the role of Primary Health Care pharmacists working in the city of Campo Grande in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Methods: A qualitative cross-sectional interview-based study with pharmacists working in municipal Primary Health Care services was carried out to investigate knowledge about the disease and involvement in the response to the health emergency. Informed consent was obtained. After coding, the corpus underwent thematic analysis.

Results: The data show that few professionals had received specific training in public health. Knowledge largely encompassed disease transmission by the mosquito and collective and individual preventive measures. Findings highlight knowledge gaps relating to signs and symptoms, diagnosis, consequences of infection, and the role of epidemiological surveillance. Most professionals mentioned at least one of the recommendations on the use of medicines in symptom management protocols. The practical implications surrounding knowledge gaps and misconceptions were reflected in pharmacists´ role in response, restricted to counselling on preventive measures. Few respondents participated in institutional groups and committees or in multiprofessional teams involving case management.

Conclusions: The study identified important knowledge gaps and showed that the involvement of pharmacy professionals in the response to the Zika epidemic was timid or inadequate. The results also suggest that pharmacists failed to recognize their role in interventions related to the ZIKV epidemic. Findings highlight the need to increase the involvement of primary care pharmacists in community-based actions, for communication and reduction of health risks, and emergency preparedness and response.


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How to Cite
Santos-Pinto CB, Osorio-de-Castro CS, Ferreira LM, Miranda ES. The role of primary care pharmacists in the response to the Zika epidemic. Pharm Pract (Granada) [Internet]. 2021Jun.16 [cited 2021Sep.18];19(2):2290. Available from:
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