Stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry have asked the government to provide basic infrastructure and incentives to pharmaceutical companies to produce medicines and other pharmaceutical products locally.
They said there should be a reasonable interest rate between 10 and 12 per cent per annum for pharmaceutical entrepreneurs who want to set up manufacturing plants, a dedicated shipping line and railway to facilitate distribution of pharmaceutical products within the West African Sub-region.
They said 70 per cent of pharmaceutical products used in the country were imported with only 30 per cent produced locally, noting that Ghana’s quest to become a pharmaceutical hub in West Africa could not be realised if proper infrastructure and governance structures were not put in place.
Mr William Adum Addo, President of Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association, in his contribution to a panel discussion on the topic: “Opportunities and Gaps in the Pharmaceutical Business in Ghana” during the West Africa Pharma and Healthcare Exhibition in Accra, said Ghana’s annual importation of pharmaceuticals ranged between five million and 600 million dollars and expected to increase because of the growing population.
Mr Addo, also the Chief Executive Officer of J. M Addo and Sons Limited, said Ghana was an emerging market for pharmaceutical products in the sub-region, but there should be conscious efforts to encourage more pharmaceutical entrepreneurs to enter the business.
Mr Kwadwo Asare Twerefour, the Managing Director of Entrance Pharmaceuticals, a member of Tobinco Group of Companies, in his contribution to the discussion, said it took about 12 weeks to import medicines and other pharmaceutical products and added his voice to the call for local manufacturing of medicines.
He, however, bemoaned the 24 per cent interest rate charged by some banks on loans as a major disincentive and called for a reduction to encourage entrepreneurs to enter the manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals domestically.
Mr Daniel Appiah, Head of Business and SME Banking at the CalBank, in his contribution, said most health facilities in the country did not prepare well in terms of financial aspect to run their institutions.
“There are poor accounting practices, no well-defined structure for running the health facility,” he said.
“Most of the time, the CEO or the Founder of the health facility is acting as the accountant, marketing officer, procurement officer, and there is no successive plan over the ownership of the institution,” Mr Appiah noted.
Mr Appiah said when there was no well-structured governance system in place, it would be easier for banks or financial institutions to advance loans to them.
He said although the Bank had allocated funds for supporting health facilities, all applicants were supposed to meet the requirements, which most private health institutions that apply failed.
Mr Appiah underscored the need for all private health facilities to institute well-structured governance structures, business plan and successive plan on ownership to enable them to get financial support.
Mr Thomas James, Project Director of West Africa Pharma and Healthcare Exhibition, said in every gap or challenge, there were opportunities to make profit and support humanity, and urged pharmaceutical companies, exhibitors, and participants to take advantage of it and make society a better place.