Dr. Ellen Cample Grizzle awarded CAP Honorary Life Member Award

Dr. Ellen Cample Grizzle awarded CAP Honorary Life Member Award, to recognize outstanding and significant contribution to the field of pharmacy in the Caribbean and to the Caribbean Association of Pharmacists in particular.

Her acceptance speech:

President and Members of CAP, other dignitaries and guests, I greet you from Jamaica this afternoon in the spirit of UBUNTU. Mandela exhorted us to always remember that we are what we are because of the contributions of others. Therefore, I am because you are. This principle underpins that philosophy of every servant leader and socially conscious advocate. And as we meet on the eve of the celebration of the 133rd birthday of Jamaica’s national hero, the Honourable Marcus Mosiah  Garvey, I am reminded of his saying that has survived the passage of time. “ A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” I greet you and say thanks to you in the certain knowledge that I am because you are.

Whatever I have achieved in my professional life in the Caribbean is due to the vision of our founders in 1976 who recognized the need to establish a Caribbean Association of Pharmacists distinct from the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association. They wanted to translate the unique power of Caribbean pharmacy practice into a global force. Emerging from the domination of empire and colonial practice, the identity of Caribbean pharmacy was to be built, sustained and respected. Not all Caribbean countries agreed but a deal was brokered by George Boyd, who at the time occupied the pharmacy interest desk at CARICOM.  As a beneficiary of their work, I also hail the memory of my countrywomen, Grace Allen Young and C. Aleen Gray who paved the way for my ascent to leadership. They wanted other women to follow in their footsteps. For certainly at the time when they entered pharmacy, professional leadership was a male-dominated space.

I stand on their shoulders and am inspired by their lives and leadership to this day.

In honouring me today, you are giving praise to the CAP  leadership team of 2000 to 2008. What I achieved is due to the support of my Caribbean sisters Janet Parris, Vanria Rolle and Cheryl Ann Yearwood and my many Caribbean pharmacy brothers and sisters who are still my friends today.  It is gratifying to note that so many young and senior pharmacists who joined CAP during my tenure are now leaders within the CAP. It is important to me to say also that many of the young pharmacy academics who I mentored during my tenure as Dean of the College of Health Sciences at UTech, Jamaica (2011-2016), are moving up in the academy, maintaining their ethical moorings.

I share a short story with you. As the President of the PSJ in 1995. I attended the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association meeting in Zimbabwe. Then, the Caribbean was the only region in the world where pharmacists were still being trained to the diploma level. Based on that experience, I emerged from that meeting determined to ensure that Jamaican pharmacy would not stay at the bottom of the pharmacy education hierarchy.  When I became President of CAP, I was determined to continue the work to transform Caribbean pharmacy education.  Those of you who were active members then know the sparks that flew. When we finally made it to CARICOM, not all of our national associations agreed to our proposal that the Bachelor’s degree become the basic entry-level qualification. However, with the support of the majority and respected leader within the COHSOD, Minister of Health of Jamaica, John Junor, we prevailed. This opened up a supportive policy direction that provided funding for CAP to pursue capacity building under the harmonization framework and funding for many of our efforts in education and practice transformation. These are historical facts. Despite dissent, we moved on and now revel in the radical transformation that a supportive policy framework advocated for by CAP to CARICOM  has wrought. Many of our pharmacists have upgraded and excelled in many clinical areas and are now Doctors of Pharmacy. I urge them to recognize that “ they are because we were.” and to pass the opportunities forward.

History will record and judge the hectic period of change and transformation that dominated the CAP between the years  2000-2008. Some members were unsettled but as I believed then and now, the pharmacy profession is not a hammock and it is the role of leadership to jolt some persons out of their comfort zone. The formalization of structures, amendment of the CAP constitution and restructuring of Continuing Education to ensure separation between professional instruction and marketing promotion redounded to the satisfaction of regulatory authorities. This neutralized the claim of some public sceptics that pharmacists were agents of big pharma. I am delighted to see that that effort is still part of the CAP ethical practice. Beyond these things, we fully sponsored excellent students to our conferences developed a peer-reviewed journal and brought pharmacists into the mainstream of HIV/AIDs care through grant funding, training and advocacy.  We were able to build relationships with key CARICOM leaders although we failed to restore the CARICOM pharmacy desk that George Boyd had occupied. That is the work for others.

You may know that  I am more about baking the cake than putting on the icing. Doing both is a skill that others possess. UBUNTU guides me to an approach to professional practice that includes caring for people in the collective and brokering policies that benefit Caribbean people, particularly the poor and powerless. Through the Caribbean Institute of Pharmacy Policy Practice and Research (CIPPPAR) at UTech, a pharmacy “think” centre that I have led for the past 11 years, we are now advocating for seamless care and a Jamaica Emergency Pharmacy Care  Amendment (JEPCA) that will allow pharmacists to provide expanded levels of patient care in times of pandemic, natural disasters, personal and national emergencies. For under COVID 19, we see more clearly the ways in which Caribbean pharmacists are restricted from providing medicines and pharmaceutical care to patients who are in need. I hope some of you will join us in this effort. Let us launch petitions to our Governments  to achieve this goal

I continue my contribution to pharmacy through the Social and Administrative Pharmacy group of FIP of which I am a member. My country has honoured me through the award of both the Musgrave Medal and Order of Distinction ( Commander Class),  making pharmacy history in Jamaica. In the latter case,  I was nominated and supported by the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica. Today, among other things, I am a public writer, academic, researcher,  behaviour change specialist and a consultant in the emerging Medical Cannabis space in Jamaica and to CARICOM. I am using this exciting opportunity to carve a space out for Caribbean pharmacists. The latest opportunity is a place for pharmacists as technical content writers of Standard Operating Procedures for GMP applications at home and abroad. The first sponsored training session will take place in September. Medical Cannabis research is moving apace and there are some early studies in Israel and other countries that are showing the potential of endocannabinoids and/or use of exogenous cannabinoids in vivo to quell the cytokine storm that erupts in inflammatory disorders. This potential is being observed in our case studies in Jamaica by our  Unakite Clinical Studies Group. Patients in our studies with chronic inflammatory conditions are showing encouraging results in ways that improve their functionality and quality of life

Finally, I have dedicated my professional life to a type of pharmacy practice that exemplifies the link between medicines and society. I have received many accolades for contribution to the profession and my Nation. You have already honoured me by bestowing the CPP for my contribution to CAP. This LIFETIME AWARD is greatly appreciated. I am blest to stand on the shoulders of others and to work in tandem with my professional contemporaries for the forward movement of Caribbean pharmacy. So, on their behalf, and mine,  I say thank you and UBUNTU.

  Ellen Campbell Grizzle, CD., PhD, Fellow-IEAL-J, CPP. R.Ph


Caribbean Association of Pharmacists