A two-day international conference to discuss sustainable resource allocation policies for Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) opened in Accra on Thursday.
It was on the theme: 'Setting Priorities Fairly: Sustainable Policies for Effective Resource Allocation.'
The collaborative event by the International Decision Support Initiative, the Health Technology Assessment International, and the Ministry of Health, sets out to address the difficulties that LMICs face with the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, and how to navigate inconsistent and dwindling healthcare funding.
It will put the spotlight specifically on how Health Technology Assessment; the measurement of any added value of a new health intervention compared to existing ones, can provide solutions.
Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu, the Deputy Minister of Health, said at the opening of the conference that prior to the adoption of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA), Ghana's selection of essential medicines had been done in a relatively systematic way using clinical evaluation alone.
He said Ghana had now incorporated HTA recommendations in the Standard Treatment Guidelines and Essential Medicines List because of the usefulness of the tool to assuring value-for-money from the design and management of benefit packages to the determination of reimbursement list of medicines, as well as price setting mechanisms.
The National Health Insurance Scheme, he said, was also a real logical beneficiary of its positive impact on the country's health system.
Mr Aboagye-Gyedu described the HTA as a systematic evaluation of properties, effects and impacts of health technology through a multidisciplinary process that evaluated the social, economic, organisational and ethical issues of a health intervention.
He said the main purpose of conducting an assessment was to inform policy decisions on medicines, medical devices, vaccines, procedures and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of life.
'I believe that if we could apply this priority setting mechanism to selection of medicines we could go to the next level of using it to support our National Health Insurance Reforms.'
Mr Aboagye-Gyedu acknowledged the support by the International Decision Support Initiative (iDSI) on Ghana's pilot study on cost-effective management of hypertension, gearing the country into a real policy momentum to entrench HTA into the selection and pricing processes.
In this regard, he said the policy direction of the Ministry was to establish technical expertise for HTA to meet health system demands, establish protocols for benchmarking for its development and use, facilitate its application among other things to optimise its uptake in all relevant decision making processes.
Professor Kalipso Chalkidou, the Director of iDSI, said the event would facilitate learning and networking among the almost 100 representatives from across sectors in Africa and Europe.
He indicated that under the leadership of the MOH, the iDSI had been working with a variety of Ghanaian entities for several years, providing technical assistance and facilitating capacity building for evidence informed priority-setting, to support the tough decisions and trade-offs by government.
Prof. Chalkidou expressed the hope that ideas and recommendations stemming from the conference would spur development and innovation within the sub-Saharan Africa Region.
Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt, the Director of Pharmaceuticals, MOH, recounted how the use of the HTA facilitated effective selection of essential medicines to address the key needs of the population, to address the high disease burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
She said other benefits of the HTA had been its key role in addressing issues on procurement, financing and research for the effective and sustainable implementation of the NHIS.