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AEFC, a professional association supporting Catholic pharmacists

An association of Catholic pharmacists in the 21st century? It is striking that in these times there is a professional association that bears the word "Catholic" in its name... It is not fashionable to present itself as such, perhaps it could be harmful... Professionals and Catholics?... Science and faith?... Is it possible?... It is possible!

Marta González Román-December 1, 2019-Reading time: 4 minutes
Catholic pharmacists at a meeting.

Catholic pharmacists at a meeting.

The Spanish Association of Catholic Pharmacists (https://farmaceuticoscatolicos.es/) was born in Madrid in 1992 on the initiative of José Carlos Areses, a community pharmacist who noticed the difficulties that, then and now, some colleagues encounter in their professional practice when they try to be consistent with their beliefs. 

José Carlos was very sensitive in responding to the request of St. John Paul II who, in his address to the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists on November 3, 1990, asked us pharmacists to realize that the Church needed our witness. In short, he created this Association in Spain (in other European countries it already existed) to support and back up professionals who wished to exercise their profession according to the teachings of the Gospel. And together with him, the unconditional support of our late colleague, María Dolores Jiménez Caballero. 

Thus was born the Spanish Association of Catholic Pharmacists (AEFC), which was soon joined by other pharmacists, initially from Madrid but later from all over Spain. 

Among our founding purposes is to raise the professional and moral level of our profession, promoting professional ethics and encouraging the service to life and health, and the responsible use of medicines. 

We advise pharmacists who are involved in problems of professional ethics, with a section in charge of studying and providing theoretical and practical solutions to problems of pharmaceutical ethics. 

We collaborate with other associations to ensure that medicines reach developing countries and we strive to disseminate Christian principles in relation to our professional practice, because we are convinced of the extraordinary impact they have in favoring social coexistence and respect for people. 

The reason for a name 

When we have been asked about the possibility of changing the name, so that it would not seem "excluding" to non-Catholics, or to have a better brand image in these times, I usually relate an experience.

When we commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Association, it was very instructive to review our history: so many fruits and gratitude received during these years made us consider that the identity and style of the first founding members should be maintained today. It was not so much a change of "name" that would make the Association effective, but rather knowing how to adapt ourselves creatively to the new challenges that the pharmaceutical profession is now facing in order to respond to them with a Christian message. 

In a certain way it is a value and an advantage for those who enter, for example, our web page, to know from the beginning that our line of action is in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel and Catholic ethics and morals. 

Our Christian identity also encourages pharmacists to seek advice and training by participating in our periodic scientific meetings, or by receiving our Newsletter, or by consulting with the ethics consultants we have in the Association, or simply by searching in the section Documentation of our web site the subjects in which they need a better scientific and moral knowledge.

Therefore, keeping the name "Catholic" has been beneficial. There are a large number of colleagues who have approached us for consultations and/or conflict resolution, which we have been able to attend to with great satisfaction. 

In any case, it is necessary to specify something important that in a certain way is part of the Christian style. A Christian never subtracts or divides, he always adds. And so are we in the AEFC, we are open to any pharmacist or pharmacy student, whether they are Catholics or not. 

We wish to provide a service to the profession and become a reference, not "the only" or "the best", for all pharmacists in their professional practice. From the AEFC we promote the debate and the deepening of bioethics and pharmaceutical ethics issues. Our desire is to contribute effectively to the respect and promotion of human life.

Lines of action

The activity of the Association is very varied and is developed through different initiatives. 

We periodically organize training sessions and symposiums on current topics. We have a close collaboration with other associations and academic entities that promote bioethics studies and professional ethics such as the Francisco de Vitoria University, the San Pablo CEU University, the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, LetYourselves and the university association APEX among others. 

We publish monthly and annual newsletters with news and topics of daily professional and Association activities, to keep the knowledge of our associates up to date. We try to promote and reward the efforts of research pharmacists or studies carried out by pharmacists, which contribute knowledge transfer and value to society. Specifically, every year we organize the Pharmacists in defense of life and the Mario Martín Velamazán Pharmacy Research Award.

Details of everything can be found on our digital portal, to which I have already referred. In addition, all our activity can also be followed through Twitter, Instagram and our channel in YouTube.

We also have a section of Volunteering We also carry out, to the extent of our possibilities, cooperation activities with the third world. For this purpose, we have collaboration agreements with the Vianorte Laguna Foundation, to volunteer with patients receiving palliative care, or with the Missionaries of Christ Jesus in India (through our fellow pharmacist and missionary Carmen Sancho) and the Delegation of Missions, so that we try to provide them with donations and send them healing material for these most disadvantaged areas of the world. 

We also have experts in professional ethics and with a service of Documentation on our website with which we seek to provide specialized and personalized training to our fellow pharmacists. And, in addition, we share experiences with them: we all improve and learn from each other. 

Possibility to collaborate

Any pharmacist or pharmacy student who is concerned about the practice of their profession along these lines, whether or not they are Catholic, can apply for membership through the form on our website. 

You can collaborate with the association in different ways that are not mutually exclusive. Either financially, by registering in the Association with an annual fee of 50 euros, or by making occasional donations. We also appreciate and need all those who think they can devote part of their time to the management and organizational activities of the AEFC: there are not many, so there is no need to fear. And of course, as we Christians know well, we are greatly helped by the power of prayer: God willing, the readers of these pages will be encouraged to collaborate in any of these three ways, or in all three!

The authorMarta González Román

President of AEFC

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