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20.06.2005 Regional News

CAREshops improve access to medicines


Accra, June 20, GNA - Mr Daniel Mensah, General Manager of the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation Enterprises Limited (GSMFEL), on Monday said the CAREshop franchise had not only improved access to medicines in the rural areas but also enhanced the level of pharmaceutical care service delivered.

The GSMFEL in collaboration with Management Sciences for Health (MSH) began the implementation of the CAREshop concept in April 2002 with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to harness the potential of Licensed Chemical Sellers (LCS) in underserved rural and peri-urban communities.

Mr Mensah said the programme was implemented because LCS were the first line providers of medicines and constituted the main mechanisms for addressing medicines access gaps.

Mr Mensah was addressing a three-day conference on Strategies for Enhancing Access to Medicines (SEAM) established by the Management Services for Health with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to respond to the challenge of improving access to essential medicines in developing countries.

The five-year programme aims to increase access by improving the systems through which drugs were supplied as well as the quality of the drug products and the pharmaceutical services provided to consumers. Mr Mensah said that so far the CAREshop had been implemented successfully in 20 districts in the country adding that the programme had instituted excellent training programmes and upgraded LCS facilities.

According to him, the centralised procurement to obtain quality discounts and door-to-door delivery systems of medicines had succeeded in ensuring that medicines reached targeted groups at affordable prices. This had also reduced the time spent by chemical sellers in search for medicines and other supplies.

Besides, modular training programmes were being provided to enhance the appropriate management and entrepreneurial skills and in the management of simple ailments or common occurrences in their communities. They are, however, r equired to refer cases, which were beyond their control adding the main challenge was how to manage, supervise and sustain the rapidly growing network. Other challenges are the high cost of financing and meeting the total requests of shops as well as changing behaviour of suppliers.