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Tuesday 25 June 2019
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FIP produces Arabic pictograms to help refugees with their medicines

The global refugee crisis, particularly the nine million Syrians estimated to have fled their homes since 2011, has prompted the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) to undertake urgent work to help pharmacists ensure that refugees who need medicines understand how to take them. An Arabic version of the FIP pictogram software has been released. FIP’s pictograms provide a means of communicating medication instructions when there is no common language or when patients have low literacy levels.


Pictograms are instructions, such as “take in the morning” or “do not take with food”, in the form of a picture. Most FIP pictograms have had their meaning validated and many have been culturally adapted to ensure effective comprehension. The pictograms are housed in software called PictoRx,” said Régis Vaillancourt, Director of Pharmacy at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Canada, whose team has been working on the project.


The FIP pictogram project has been in development for eight years. The release of the resource in Arabic coincides with the launch of an improved version of the software, which allows pharmacists to build, quickly and easily, storyboards (of instructions), information sheets and medication calendars for their patients.


Pharmacists have a duty to ensure the proper use of medicines. In view of the language barriers faced by migrants, these pictograms have the potential to play an important role in optimising treatment compliance and improving medication safety in this group,” Dr Vaillancourt said.


PictoRx may also be used for patients who have slight cognitive impairment or impaired vision. It is available to download free from the FIP website.


Arabic is the latest language to be added to the software, joining English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Maori, German, Chinese and Polish.


PictoRx can be downloaded at The updated software will be demonstrated at the 75th World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Düsseldorf, Germany.

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