Minister of Health advocates local production of drugs

Ms Sherry Ayittey - Health Minister
Ms Sherry Ayittey – Health Minister

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Health on Tuesday appealed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to accredit more Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs locally to ease the growing menace of counterfeit medicines.

She said manufacturing essential drugs locally would significantly reduce the cost of medicines, create employment and enable the country to certify the quality and efficacy of such medicines, and gear the country towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal of availability of quality and affordable medicines for the underprivileged.

The Minister made the appeal during the signing of an Agreement between the European Union, the WHO and Ghana to promote access to affordable, safe and quality medicines in the country.

The agreement, which spans four years, is a renewed partnership between the three parties, with the European Union (EU) making available $400,000 for the provision of technical support by WHO to develop and implement priority activities in national medicines policy implementation plan.

The first EU/ACP (Africa Caribbean and Pacific)/WHO partnership programme for pharmaceutical policies was implemented in Africa and in Ghana from 2004 and 2010.

Due to the successful implementation of the programme in Ghana the EU accepted to fund the second phase.

The programme is hinged on five thematic areas, including, improving availability and supply of essential medicines in national, regional and community health facilities in ACP countries, reducing the price of medicines and improved mechanisms for financing and for coverage of essential medicines in social protection schemes.

The programme also seeks to improve quality and safety of medicines and reduce the occurrence of substandard medicines and of medicines that pose health risk, improve medicines selection, prescribing, dispensing and use.

It will also beef up access to reliable information in the pharmaceutical sector and policy of countries, review national medicines policy and plans and enhance transparency and good governance in the sector.

Ms Ayittey initialled the agreement for Ghana, whilst Dr Iddrisa Sow, the WHO Representative in Ghana and Claude Maerten, the EU’s head of delegation in Ghana signed for their organisations.

Mr Maerten underscored the importance of quality and reliable medicine to healthcare, citing a recent sampling of drugs in Ghana that showed that about 60 per cent of medicines used in the country are fake.

He said the move would negate some of the problems associated with counterfeit medicines.

Ghana’s work plan includes the assessment and implementation of the national medicines Policy of 2004 to reflect new trends in pharmaceutical care across the world.

The Food and Drugs Authority would also be evaluated to identify gaps and strengthen the medicines regulatory system.

A survey on prescribing, dispensing and use of medicines will also be undertaken to ensure that prescribers adhere to clinical guidelines and essential medicines list to reduce waste in the healthcare system to sustain the national health Insurance |scheme.

Source: GNA

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