The Scandinavian based Pharmacists without Borders (FUG), the Lady Pharmacists Association of Ghana and the Anglican Diocese of Accra, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote the safe use of safer medicines in the local communities in the country.
The MoU was borne out of a four-day brainstorming workshop in Accra with high level representatives from FUG, the President and senior members of LAPAG and leading women within the Diocese of Accra of the Anglican Church of Ghana.
Mr Sten Olsson, Chief Pharmacovigilance Expert of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and President of the Swedish Chapter of the Pharmacists without Borders, signed on behalf of FUG whilst Right Reverend Dr Sylvanus Mensah Torto, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Accra signed for the Church and Mrs Yvonne Yirenkyiwaa Esseku, National Chairperson of LAPAG signed for her Association.
The novelty long-term partnership being championed by Pharmacists without Borders aims at helping consumers in Ghana to protect themselves against the dangers of using sub-standard, counterfeit and falsified medicines and to strengthen the ability of consumers to make safer decisions.
There was consensus at the workshop that low quality medicines on the Ghanaian market pose serious risks to the health of consumers.
The three parties have therefore agreed to engage to increase consumer awareness on unsafe medicinal products and their rights regarding their health and strengthen their knowledge on the rational use of medicines.
A plan of action has been developed by the collaborating partners, including various strategies for interventions that aim to inform consumers on the safe use of safer drugs, primarily through the church parishes and the women groups.
A curricular would be developed to support the training of trainers. The main part of the activities would be agreed upon through a series of meetings between representatives of the Anglican Diocese and LAPAG.
The MoU agreed to undertake baseline studies of consumer attitudes and knowledge regarding medicines and their use in order to measure effects of the planned interventions.
Mr Olsson who led the six-member delegation from Norway, Sweden and Denmark said he was incredibly happy and impressed in the goals of the workshop in providing consumers the tools to protect themselves against unregistered peddlers of inferior drugs sold at low prices. He said the churches could be mobilised to create awareness about the use of inferior drugs. He pledged the support of FUG in mobilizing long-term financial and technical resources for the project.
Bishop Torto said one of the five pillars of the Church is about making a social impact and pledged the support of the church in ensuring that both the spiritual and physical lives of Ghanaians are improved substantially. He thanked the various eminent Anglicans who have been instrumental in facilitating the medically soundness of the Diocese and for making the efforts to promote the safe use of drugs a reality.
He narrated his personal encounter with a fake drug peddler in a public commuter bus and therefore asked that the awareness against counterfeit drugs should not be a nine- day wonder.
Mrs Esseku praised the zeal displayed at the workshop towards making progress towards the selling of sub-standard drugs to the public
Mrs Sarah Middleton-Mends of the Anglican Health Professionals Guild of the Diocese lauded the positive influence of the workshop, explaining that during the medical outreach programmes of the Guild, members without expertise in pharmacy always had challenges with the administration of drugs.
She expressed the hope that members of LAPAG would assist the Guild from time to time to educate the public on drugs.