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27.07.2004 Regional News

Book on safe medicine use launched in Accra

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Accra, July 27, GNA - Pharmacists, dispensers and chemical sellers in the country spend an average of less than a minute to advise a client on how to use any four different drugs.

Similarly, a patient at the country's two major hospitals on the average spends just four minutes with a doctor.

The result of the minimal communication between health care providers and their clients, for instance, is that clients had put medicines meant for the nose into the mouth, with fatal consequences, Dr Alex Doudu, Director for Centre for Tropical Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, of the University of Ghana Medical School, said in Accra on Monday. Dr Doudu was speaking at the launching of "Medicines - Using Them Safely", a 135-page-book, written by Mr Bernard Appiah, a Pharmacist. The book encourages the general public on the rational use of medicines; help health professionals, including licensed chemical sellers to counsel patients on the medicines they prescribe and to present drug information in a simple way to the reader. It treats topics as: "The Ten Rules of the Protection From the Dangers of Medicines", "Drug Interactions", and "Administering Medicines Correctly".

Mr Moses Dani Baah, Deputy Minister of Health, whose keynote address was read by Mr Felix Yellu, Chief Pharmacist, said the book is a useful tool, which would further add impetus to the Rational Use of Medicines Initiative, which the Health Sector embarked upon some seven years ago. He repeated the call on health professionals to document, publish books and articles so as to deepen knowledge among their colleagues and the general public.

"We cannot continue to be reticent about publishing issues concerning quality health care-which in fact is one of the core objectives of the National Health Insurance Scheme", Mr Baah said.

Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt, Acting Programme Manager of the Ghana National Drugs Programme (GNDP), said the average number of drugs given to patients at health facilities had reduced from 4.6 to 3.5, between 1998 and 2002, meaning that fewer drugs are used in treating Ghanaians. Mrs Joycelyn Azeez, of the Procurement Office of the Ministry of Health read Mrs Gyansa-Lutterodt's speech.

She said percentage of patients given antibiotics fell from 56 per cent to 42.5 per cent, and that of injections from 42 per cent to 33.5 per cent. The availability of drugs in health facilities within the period also improved from 83.3 per cent to 91.2 per cent.

Mrs Gyansa-Lutterdodt said there is a general consensus among Ghanaians that there were too many advertisements on medicines on Ghana's airwaves, and said the Food and Drugs Board was working for its control. She said the GNDP had fully funded the setting up of the National Drug Information Centre Resource Centre at Adjabeng in Accra, and welcomed health service providers and the general public to access information, free of charge from the Centre, on medicines they want.

Mr Frank Boateng, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGh), said the focus of the Society had shifted, over the years from product to patient. This involves proper counselling on medicine use through he use of the mass media and public health education. The first six copies of the Book were auctioned for 2.1 million cedis.

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