COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GHANA (PSGH) 2018 CONFERENCE
Tuesday, 2 October 2018
Posted by: Paul Owusu Donkor
We, members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) assembled at the Ho Technical University & Volta Serene Hotel at Ho in the Volta Region for the 83rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) under the theme: “Building Capacity to Lead Change in Healthcare”.
The AGM was attended by close to 2,000 pharmacists from all over Ghana and abroad and had in attendance
key Policy Makers in healthcare, CEOs and leaders of Pharmaceutical Industries, Directors and Heads of statutory state institutions, Heads and senior researchers in Academia and Pharmacy Institutions in Ghana.
The objectives of the Conference were to explore the difficulties, possibilities, modalities and opportunities available to transform the healthcare landscape in Ghana to optimize patient care and improve patient safety.
Over the five-day period, the conference participants working in various plenary and workshop sessions concluded as follows:
1. Local Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
The conference noted that despite the recognition of the local manufacturing industry by government as the 4th pillar for industrial and economic development, Ghana still lags behind when it comes to the percentage of medicines on the local market that are locally manufactured. This is largely attributed to inadequate financing for local pharmaceutical industries, lack of coordinated effort from the various Ministries and level of compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). To achieve local production of 60% of national essential medicines need, the country will require developing capabilities in the institutional, regulatory, administrative and technical areas as well as the capacity to mobilize and deploy resources to finance the development of the sector.
Conference is prepared to partner with government in further developing the sector and recommends that:
a. An inter-ministerial committee on local pharmaceutical manufacturing be set up by government to lead the process.
b. A Pharmaceutical Desk at an Executive level is established at the National Development Planning Commission to coordinate pharmaceutical sector planning and development.
c. A National Bioequivalence Testing Center be established to support the local manufacturing industries to comply with international standards including WHO prequalification to make them competitive internationally.
d. An industrial park specific for pharmaceutical manufacturing be established as is the case in India, China and Ethiopia.
e. Government should put together a multi-sectoral delegation to undertake a study tour of the current pharmaceutical manufacturing landscape in India, China and Ethiopia and make recommendations for implementation.
f. The prioritization of locally manufactured medicines at all levels of public and government procurement will further strengthen the commitment towards achieving local manufacturing objectives.
2. Pharmaceutical workforce in the public sector
Conference acknowledged that a strong public health system requires competent, knowledgeable, skilled, well-motivated and innovative Pharmaceutical workforce. However, in Ghana, Hospital Pharmacy practice is not managed as a valuable asset and hence Hospital Practice Pharmacists are not accorded adequate recognition within the healthcare system. Conference sadly noted that over 200 Pharmacists left the public health service in the past one year alone and no efforts have been made to replace them thus denying patients of professional pharmaceutical care and safety.
Conference calls on the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ghana Health Service (GHS), Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), the various Teaching Hospitals and all who run major hospitals in the public sector to take steps to urgently recruit pharmacists into the public health arena while ensuring adequate compensation, codified conditions of service and remuneration are given to pharmacists to ensure they contribute efficiently to healthcare and safeguard patient safety.
3. VAT on selected imported pharmaceutical products
Conference applauded government for the removal of VAT on selected imported Pharmaceutical products and inputs. It however noted that there is still a wide variation in pricing of medicines across the value chain. To this end, conference recommends the formulation of a national pharmaceutical pricing policy backed by legislation to take another look at the pricing of medicines in Ghana. This will ensure financial accessibility to medicines by all Ghanaians and support the sustainability of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)
4. National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)
Conference noted that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) still lacks adequate financing. There are still delays in reimbursement of claims for service providers. Whilst acknowledging the current efforts to improve financing, we recommend a focus on preventive services and proper utilization of resources towards preventive health.
Additionally, Conference noted that the time has come for the NHIA to earnestly pursue the separation of services in health care (including prescribing, dispensing, laboratory services etc.) to minimize fraudulent claims and reduce cost. For example, it has been shown that where the separation of prescribing and dispensing services are implemented, there is a corresponding reduction in polypharmacy and cost of medicines prescribed. This could be piloted in selected districts and possibly scaled up after evaluation. The PSGH stands ready to provide technical advice, human resource to, and collaborate with the NHIA in this direction.
5. Antimicrobial Resistance Policy
Recognizing that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a public health threat that has broader social implications for global and regional health security, and that the problem of AMR is compounded by lack of awareness, cultural practices and system challenges, Conference applauded the launching of the AMR Policy and National Action Plan by
His Excellency the President of the Republic. Further, Conference reaffirmed the commitment of the PSGH to work with government, the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders towards achieving the objectives spelt out in the implementation plan.
6. Pharmacy Council and HeFRA- Conflict of mandate
Conference noted with concern the current impasse between the Pharmacy Council and Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (HeFRA) in the regulation and licensing of premises for pharmaceutical care provision, occasioned by the perceived conflict of mandate and regulatory overlaps between their regulatory functions. Conference acknowledged that in international best practice, the regulation of the person (pharmacist) and the practice (pharmacy) is not separated from the premises (pharmacies). This is the practice in the US, continental Europe, United Kingdom and the Commonwealth and in most African countries. It is also noted that the continuing overlap is leading to overregulation, financial burden and difficulties in achieving collective objectives.
Conference, therefore, recommends the urgent need for the Ministry of Health and Parliament to take urgent steps to initiate the necessary legislative and administrative reviews to bring closure to this matter.
Conference expressed profound gratitude to the Government, His Excellency the President of Ghana, His Excellency the Vice-President, for opening the conference and giving the participants guidance; the Hon. Volta Regional Minister and the Hon. Minister of Health and the Deputy Minister of Health for making time to be available in spite of their busy schedules; and Ho Technical University leadership and staff for providing an excellent and hospitable environment for the Annual General Meeting; the Mayor of Ho and the good people of the Volta region for hosting the PSGH.
Conference further expressed appreciation for the hospitality extended by the general public and private organizations over the five-day period.
Pharm. Benjamin Kwame Botwe