by Pierre Vassallo - Imaging options for breast cancer detection have changed significantly over time. There are two goals that drive technological change in breast cancer imaging: a. improvement in diagnostic accuracy and b. reduction in radiation exposure to the breast.
Marika Azzopardi interviews pharmacist Simone Fenech who was recently presented with an award by the Qormi Local Council.
When did your career as a pharmacist begin?
I graduated in December 1982 and over the years worked in varied pharmacies. Today I work at Pinto Pharmacy in Qormi which is now a family-run business.
Is this a very old pharmacy?
Indeed it is. The name is directly connected with the history of Qormi and Grandmaster Pinto. It is a very old pharmacy which was run by a veteran chemist. Our son bought it recently and we worked in it, in its old state, for a while. This was up until we relocated to small premises close by whilst the building underwent intensive restoration works. These will be ready soon and, once it is inaugurated, we will start operating from within it again.
Can you share with The Synapse readers some information about your award?
This came as a complete surprise. I received an invitation in the post, whereby I was invited to attend a ceremony at the Local Council. I must admit that initially I did not intend to attend, due to the fact that we work long hours at the pharmacy; I try to avoid attending events after hours whenever possible. But then, at the last minute, I decided to attend. And sure enough, during the ceremony, my name was called and I was presented with the award dedicated to 'Għarfien il-Ħila - Servizz lill-Komunita.' Basically the Local Council felt I deserved appreciation for my work with clients who come to our pharmacy and for my ability to serve them well. I decided to dedicate this award to the memory of my late father, Pio Sciriha, who was a highly talented maths and physics teacher. He taught many people who would otherwise have floundered in these topics, including myself. He had a gift of teaching such complex subjects most effectively. Above all, he taught me respect, discipline and how to take a serious approach to responsibility.
What would you say made you stand out and be eligible for this award?
I must make it clear that I was absolutely in the dark about all of this. But from what I gather, people feel I am a helpful person. To be honest I love to work with a passion, and when I am speaking to a client, I do my best to dedicate my full attention to his or her questions and health problems. I like to listen well, and try to give samples where possible to help people who need to try out a product before they actually purchase a probably costly full-size, that might not be helpful to their particular case after all.
How have people changed in their attitude to pharmacists over the years?
A great deal. There was a time when a pharmacist was a highly respected professional in all senses - remember that in the past we used to prepare tinctures, medicines and potions ourselves. Sometimes I still mix medicines for clients but very rarely indeed. Nowadays, clients tend to be disrespectful, behave as if they are speaking to a glorified salesgirl. They will insist on being given certain products without a prescription, even when you explain these can be dangerous and must be prescribed by a doctor.
What are the major problems you face in such instances?
Clients who want to be given an antibiotic or a steroid cream, 'like the one used last year'. Elderly patients tend to be the most challenging. On the other hand, in general, clients tend to be better informed. They listen to radio or TV programmes with great attention and will come back to me to ask more information about something that interests them.
Are there any health issues which you are amazed to still see or which you have seen on clients resurface after many years?
Oh yes … STDs are definitely on the rise. Recently I was amazed to see a case of scabies, something we only associated with deprived conditions of wartime.
What would you say are risks of the job which you must watch out for?
Working in a busy pharmacy such as Pinto Pharmacy brings us face–to-face with episodes of blatant theft. We have to be quick and efficient, yet careful at the same time, especially when the pharmacy is full of clients, each demanding attention. Then there is contagion - people with bad bouts of flu come to the pharmacy as the first resort to help themselves get better. Still, we know these are our risks of the job, so to say, and we learn to protect ourselves as best we can.
If you had to do it all again, would you still become a pharmacist?
Most definitely. I love what I do, I love my job. I am at the pharmacy everyday at 6am, doing the paperwork, re-stocking shelves, preparing for the moment we open our doors to welcome clients. I cannot envisage a day in my life when I am not at the pharmacy anymore.
I read ‘The Synapse’ because….
For the past 21 years it has been a source of information updating me on the latest medical news and educating each and every one of us on so many fields of science. Over the years, the journal has acquired a permanent and prominent position in my library. The minute I receive it, I read it from cover to cover. When the front cover image shows a historic location or building, I like to make time to go and visit it. My heartfelt compliments go to the managing editor, Dr Ian Ellul, for his sterling work.
Dr Amy Christine Chircop - Although perceptions of mental illness have changed for the better over the past years, for reasons unbeknownst, mental health issues remain a lingering taboo.
A Cameo Mention of Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) – A Magical Garment Girl using Alcohol to Break a SpellWritten by Michelle Muscat
by Michelle Muscat - MANGA & LIGHT NOVEL
Short accounts of interesting cases, some medical disasters, involving pathology and clinical practice, from the recollection of Prof. Albert Cilia-Vincenti.
Theresa Mallia & Therese Hunter
by Ian Ellul - Last May, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that 450,000 women between the ages of 68 and 71 in the UK failed to receive invitations for a final routine breast cancer screening.
Sports Director Pierre Chicco talks Medigames with TheSynapse.
i2i Publishing; 200 pages; £8.95
Published in December 2017
''Every single one of us has a story to tell.'' This story revolves around two girls of the same age with initially apparently very little in common characterwise, called Madeleine and Madison Moretti. One is an intelligent and hardworking medical doctor interested in clinical chemistry, the other
seemingly a Japanese pop culture expert, and a manga, anime and gaming enthusiast with deep roots in the land of the rising sun where the cherry blossoms fall. The story is rich with interspersed cultural and comedic elements. Flipping seamlessly from Madeleine's medical drama to Madison's
everyday life and her figurine and keychain collections, unexpected revelations are made. Moving from daily routines to illusions beyond the looking glass that transcend the mortal realm, to the vermillion gates of Inari, and the Coomassie's brilliant blue waters, even deeper secrets surface at the end. The girls touch upon the artefact called romantic love with its many shapes and guises, ranging from Tietz's fiancee, the unique allure of virtual characters, and a fateful chance meeting. Philosophical musing on what constitutes true `happiness' after a potentially fatal incident, and the strong thematic element of duality, blend in to make the story more intuitive and accessible. It incorporates suspense, and final realisations as to who Madison and Madeleine really were, or who they could have been, with depiction of chemical pathology through the eyes of a girl and references drawn from famous Japanese pop culture elements by a girl who's story could no longer be told.
'The author's research was partially funded through the Endeavour Scholarship Scheme'