Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia Wednesday launched the National Electronic Pharmacy Policy and Guidelines (e-Pharmacy) to ensure inclusive pharmaceutical care in Ghana.
It would also lead to full operationalisation of a digital platform for providing pharmaceutical services across the country next year.
The process would have the pharmaceutical companies converge on one digital platform to address the difficulties of roaming and looking for medicines, ensure competitive pricing and sale of genuine medicines to the public.
The e-pharmacy platform aims at addressing four key concerns of health; improving pharmacists to patient ratio, improve confidentiality of health information and privacy of patients' medical records and minimising counterfeit and sub-standard medication in the country.
At the launch in Accra, Vice-President Bawumia said leveraging on technology would help the delivery and overall management of pharmaceutical care and services in ways that improved access, efficiency and the availability of genuine medicines across the country.
Two years ago, he tasked the Pharmacy Council and the Pharmaeutical Society of Ghana to digitise the operations of pharmacies to realise government's digitisation agenda.
"Today, we are here to launch a top tier innovation that will transform access to pharmaceutical care in Ghana, complementing the Government's attempt to improve access to and delivery of health care to the near 30 million population,” Vice President Bawumia said.
"This innovation is dear to government. A few years ago, at the Annual General Meeting of Pharmacists, I threw a challenge to them.”
"How can we use technology to improve access to pharmaceutical care in Ghana in a manner that complements our traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy?” he asked.
"Yes, there is that personal touch to the traditional face-to-face patient-pharmacist relationship, but there are ways that technology can improve access and delivery, especially to the large segment of the population scattered in the rural and less urban areas."
The Vice-President lauded the Pharmacy Council, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, and the committee that worked tirelessly to respond to some of the challenges in the delivery of pharmaceutical services.
"The innovation in improving pharmacy access to our people through e-Pharmacy can be a game changer in safe-guarding the future of our youth and ensuring rational and responsible access to medicines on a scale we have not yet been able to achieve," he said.
"Today, we are adding to the growing list of digitised platforms. E-pharmacy should help us address concerns for the proliferation of fake drugs due to a direct link with the Food and Drugs Authority to approve all medicines dispensed by the pharmacies, unlicensed pharmacy operations, reduce disparities in the cost of medicines and tackle some of the major administrative and delivery issues that affect the practice."
Ghana's current pharmacist to patient ratio is 1: 10,000, which is five times higher than the 1:2,000 recommended by the World Health Organisation.
The launch of the E-pharmacy platform, he ssid, would help improve the pharmacist-patient ratio by reducing the need for physical contact with pharmacists.
That, he said, would lessen healthcare provider dependency since subscribers could access vital health information with the help of a pharmacist without necessarily going to the pharmacy.
Both patients and pharmacists would not need to travel far to receive or dispense medicines.
The Vice President urged all pharmacists to continue to educate the public on the dangers of taking sub-standard and counterfeit medicines.
The global e-pharmacy market is currently worth about 81 billion dollars and expected to grow to 244 billion dollars by 2027.
With the national E-Pharmacy platform, Ghana will be part of this new pharmaceutical digital economy.
The evidence from India also indicates that the national e-pharmacy is likely to boost pharmaceutical sales by between 100-200 per cent.
"As we embark on this new path, please do not hesitate to give feedback to the Pharmacy Council to continuously improve the policy and the system with the ultimate goal of making it easier and safer for Ghanaians to access medicines in a responsible manner," Dr Bawumia said.