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26.08.2004 General News

Ministry launches second edition of National Drug Policy

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Accra, Aug. 26, GNA - The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday launched the second edition of the National Drug Policy (NDP) that would remain the official document to guide the pharmaceutical sector. The current revision of the first edition launched in 1999 was done with technical and financial support from the Royal Netherlands Government and it has a number of flexibilities incorporated to address the negative consequences of pharmaceutical patents.

These include compulsory licensing, parallel importation and provisions relating to patenting subject matter and exceptions to patent rights, data, competition and control of anti-competitive practices. The 26-page document was formulated to accommodate future developments and changes in the overall vision of attaining health for all.

The various elements examined by the policy also included legislation and regulatory control, local manufacture and herbal medicines, drug registration and selection of essential drugs, drug procurement and supply management, quality assurance, coordination and policy monitoring and evaluation.

Dr Kweku Afriyie, Minister of Health, who launched the policy under the theme "Towards An Increasing Access To Medicines In Ghana" said in Ghana where resources were severely limited, a formal policy document to give an overall view of what was needed was necessary to avoid conflicting policies.

He said the launch of the first Drug Policy led to substantial improvement in the pharmaceutical sector with a record of over 90 per cent availability of essential drugs at all levels of care within the public sector though affordability and equity of access continued to be a problem.

Dr. Afriyie said a major thrust of this second edition of the drug policy was based on public health safeguards under the Trade Related and Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Mr Felix Yellu, Chief Pharmacist, said the ultimate goal of the pharmaceutical sector was to ensure that all people in Ghana had access to good quality essential medicines to use rationally. He said the existence of the policy would help to achieve that goal and called on all healthcare professionals and the general public to let it guide them.

Professor David Ofori-Adjei, Director of Noguchi Memorial Institute, said the pharmaceutical sector operated for decades despite the absence of a policy because of the existence of legislations, regulations and financing policies that contained major elements of the of policy.

Dr Melville George, a Representative of World Health Organisation (WHO), said in the drive towards profits and exuberant promotions, there was the need to protect the population to ensure that they benefited from proper access to safe and quality medicines prescribed in optimum conditions.

He said the Food and Drugs Board needed to be strengthened with all the regulatory framework and control to ensure safe drug use.