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Primary health care policy and vision for community pharmacy and pharmacists in Estonia

  • Sepp, Kristiina1
  • Tuula, Anita2
  • Bobrova, Veera1
  • Volmer, Daisy1
  • 1 University of Tartu, Estonia , (Estonia)
  • 2 Ringtee Selveri Südameapteek, Estonia , (Estonia)
Published Article
Pharmacy Practice
Centro de Investigaciones y Publicaciones Farmaceuticas
Publication Date
May 03, 2021
DOI: 10.18549/PharmPract.2021.2.2404
PMID: 34035870
PMCID: PMC8118601
PubMed Central
  • International Series: Integration of community pharmacy in primary health care


Estonia, with a population of 1.3 million, is the smallest country in the three Baltic States. As a post-soviet country, Estonia over the past 30 years has built up a new health care system, including the pharmaceutical sector. The GDP allocated to cover health care costs is significantly lower in Estonia compared to the EU average. Despite this, Estonia has excelled in the development of digital e-services in healthcare at both the domestic and international levels. The development and integration of the Estonian community pharmacy sector into primary health care has been influenced and affected by the liberalization within pharmaceutical policy and the lack of cooperation with the rest of the health care sector. Community pharmacy ownership and location matters have been prevalent. The promotion of the pharmacy services has mostly taken place on the basis of a professional initiative, as cooperation with the state has not been active. Possibly the professional fragmentation of the pharmacy sector may have played a negative role. The community pharmacy network in Estonia, especially in cities, enables fast and convenient access to the pharmacy services. Community Pharmacy Service Quality Guidelines support the harmonization of the provided services and patient-centered concept to enhance the patient role and involvement in their care. In recent years, community pharmacies in Estonia have also offered various extended services that are more or less integrated with the primary health care system. New developments may be affected by frequent changes in legislation and a shortage of professional staff in community pharmacies. The ownership reform of pharmacies in 2020 has so far not had a significant impact on the operation of pharmacies or the quality of services provided.

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