Ministry of Health launches guidelines on treatment

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ghana National Drug Programme on Wednesday launched the sixth Standard Treatment Guidelines (STGs) and Essential Medicines List (EML) to ensure availability of safe drugs and rational drug use

The STGs are scientifically developed documents that assist prescribers in deciding on appropriate treatment for specific clinical conditions and also reflect the consensus on the optimal treatment options within a health care system aimed at positively influencing prescribing behaviour at all levels.

The EML on the other hand is the accompanying document of the STG which contains the list of medicines to be procured by MOH and reimbursable by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

According to the Ghana National Drug Programme (GNDP) the two documents sought to ensure sustainability of the NHIS, improving patient psychology on medicines, reducing cost to the patient and improving the quality of the health received by patients.

In a speech read on his behalf, Health Minister Dr. Ben Kunbuor said rational use of medicines required that patients received medications appropriate to the clinical needs for an adequate period of time and at the lowest cost to them and their community.

This, he noted was important because inappropriately prescribing practices could directly or indirectly, jeopardise the quality of patients care and negatively influence the outcome of treatment.

Dr. Kunbuor said the Ministry was aware of over-dosage or under-dosage of antibiotics and chemotherapeutic agents which had led to the rapid emergence of resistant strains of bacteria and causative agents of disease which came at a huge cost.

The STGs, he said would therefore be critical in contributing to the sustainability of the NHIS and reimbursement for services provided and noted that would largely depend on the NHIS medicines list which must be derived from the STGs.

The Sector Minister said the Ministry would strengthen the implementation of EML for both private and public practice to enable providers programme effectively for health logistics thus using funds effectively.

The monitoring and evaluation unit of MOH, he said would work with the GNDP and NHIS to ensure compliance to the use of the guidelines and where necessary apply appropriate sanction for non-compliance.

Mr. Sylvester Mensah, Chief Executive Officer of NHIA, said NHIA would work with other agencies of the Ministry, private providers and other stakeholders to ensure that the STGs worked to improve the health status of the people and ensure sustainability of the NHIS.

He announced that implementation of the one-time premium of the NHIS would start in January 2011 and added that the National Health Insurance Bill was before Cabinet after which it would be sent to Parliament to be passed into law.

Dr. Francis Ofei, Chairman of STG Review Committee, said the sixth edition of the STG had taken six years due to the enormous work, and the emergence of new diseases, and the fact that the body of knowledge of medicines had increased and more input needed to be incorporated into it.

He said the local experts who worked on the guidelines tailored it to be feasible in the Ghanaian setting and recommended that a standing committee drawn from existing specialist to review the STGs on a continual basis.

Mr. James Ohemeng  Kyei, Chief Pharmacist of MOH, said the STGs was the Ministry’s officially approved prescribers’ and dispenser’s guide for all levels of health care adding that care had been taken to align the health insurance benefit package to the sixth  edition.

Source: GNA

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