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22.12.2004 General News

National document for standard treatment launched

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Accra, Dec. 22, GNA- Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Health on Wednesday said inappropriate prescription of drugs could jeopardise the quality of patient care and negatively influence the outcome of treatment and cautioned health practitioners against over or under prescription. He said the rational use of medicines required that patients received medications appropriate to their clinical needs for adequate period of time and at the lowest cost to them and their community.

Dr. Afriyie who launched the fifth edition of the Standard Treatment Guidelines and the Essential Medicines List, (STG/EML) said the likelihood of adverse drug reactions increased when drugs were prescribed unnecessarily and urged health providers to embrace the document as an important tool in the management of medicines in the country.

The launch, organised by the Ghana National Drugs Programme (GNDP) was on the theme "ensuring quality and cost effective health care". Health practitioners were urged to make use of the 491 and 25-paged STG and EML documents respectively in their daily practice instead of keeping them on their shelves.

Dr Afriyie said the document, compiled by experts was to ensure harmony in the treatment, procurement and re-imbursements, adding that the Ministry would make efforts to increase access to essential medicines that satisfy the priority health care needs of all Ghanaians. He stated that previous editions of the treatment guidelines were expected to change irrational prescribing patterns of some health practitioners, "however it has become apparent that sending the guidelines to all prescribers is not enough to bring about improvement in prescribing practices."

He therefore, charged all service agencies under the Ministry to properly propagate the use of the guidelines through structured training programmes, monitor its use and where necessary apply appropriate sanctions against deviant behaviours.

Dr. Afriyie maintained that the use of the guidelines would be critical in ensuring the success of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), adding that reimbursement for services provided would also largely depend on the NHI medicine list, which had been derived from the STG.

Mr Frank B. Adu, Chairman, National Health Insurance Council, said resistance to drugs were on the increase due to poor compliance and management.

"Related to this is the fact that people are unable to afford the cost of basic essential drugs and thus cannot have full benefit of prescribed drugs", he said.

He said the NHI programme was also developing a drug list similar to the Standard guidelines, but would focus mainly on the Minimum Benefit Package.

He said acceptance of the NHI drug list and the Standard Treatment Guidelines shall be one of the Health Insurance accreditation requirements for health facilities and health professionals before they could operate under the scheme.

Mr Adu stated that equally important for accreditation of health facilities was the acceptance of a tariff structure that was being developed under the NHIS for all health facilities which would be accredited to participate in the health insurance programme.

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