Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday admitted that West Africa faced a challenge in the pharmacy sector and needed to streamline its operations to preserve the quality of life in the Sub Region.
He said pharmacy played a critical role in health delivery and noted that the task of a pharmacist was to ensure that a drug therapy was appropriately indicated, the most effectively available, the safest possible, and convenient for the patient.
Speaking at the 21st Annual General Meeting, 51st Council meeting and Induction of 50 fellows into the West Africa Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP) in Accra, he said a little mistake could jeopardize the lives of patients and that made the pharmacist a rare professional.
The meeting was on the theme; “Challenges of Pharmacy in improving Quality of Life in West the African Sub-Region”
Apart from Stock taking, the AGM would school fellows on topics such as sustainable financing for the new malaria drug policy and Pharmacy and Health-related Millennium Development Goals.
Vice President Mahama noted the limited numbers in the profession paved way for untrained people to fill the gap in the rural areas adding, that could be disastrous.
He was of the view that pharmacists were a bridge between other health professionals and patients because they were very often the first specialists that patients meet especially in the communities and the last to be seen for their medications.
He therefore called for training of chemical sellers and those who man chemists in the absence of pharmacists and urged them to value the health of their clients first.
He said efforts to build the capacity of local drug manufacturers would be accelerated and that his office would liaise with the Minister of Health to assist.
The Minister of Health, Dr George Sepah Yankey acknowledged problems of repayment of monies to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and said the ministry would soon come out with software that would ensure that claims were sent electronically for prompt payment.
He noted that pharmacists should ensure that drugs were accessible in the right quality and its efficacy proven and urged professionals to move away from its original focus on manufacturing of medicines and supply towards a more inclusive focus on patient care.
“I believe that the focus of deliberation will be to identify and address the components of health that affected pharmacy in realizing the millennium development Goals (MDGs)”, he said.
Professor Mahama Duwiejua, Dean, faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah university of Science and Technology (KNUST) asked members to be concerned about the menace of fake and counterfeit drugs in the region and improve access to affordable quality medicines.
He said equally important was the threat to the sustainability of NHIS and it impacts on the quality of life and expressed worry about the majority of people who had no access to quality and affordable pharmaceutical care.
He noted that there were also real challenges outside the control of pharmacy and urged government to collaborate more with pharmacists because it was an embarrassing that after over 40 years of pharmacy education at the degree level in the sub-region about 70 percent of medicines used were imported.
He charged pharmacists and regulatory bodies to be warriors against fake and counterfeit medicines and be more vigilant.
Dr Alex Dodoo, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana said it was the dream of and aspiration of the society for all the three pharmacy Training institutions in the country to offer the six year Programmes in the specific areas of pharmacy to equip all graduates not just in pharmacy skills but with business and or in public health training for them to contribute to the improvement of health care in the sub-region and beyond.