22.04.2005 Regional News

New Drugs Policy to ensure equity, access to medicines

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Ho, April 22, GNA-Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt, Acting Programme Manager of the Ghana National Drugs Programme (GNDP) on Thursday said the new national drug policy is the instrument for ensuring equity and access to medicines under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). "The call for a pricing policy made in the document should be taken seriously", because " it is one of the long outstanding issues on drug management in this country," she said.

Mrs Gyansa-Lutterodt made these points at the Volta Region launching of the NDP document at Ho.

She predicted that "the financial survival of the health insurance scheme will depend to a significant extent on how medicines are managed from selection to use".

"The absence of medicines will lead to unfavourable health consequences in addition to the loss of confidence in the health care system...", Mrs Gyansa-Lutterodt said.

She cautioned, "injudicious use of medicines can collapse the scheme quite apart from the adverse health consequences for such practices as polypharmacy and other poor prescribing habits." She said it was therefore essential that all stakeholders; government, health professionals, health -related professions and institutions, regulatory bodies and consumers played their roles towards the successful implementation of the actions prescribed in the document.

The 26-page policy document focused on 12 thematic areas such as drug selection, procurement, storage and distribution, financing, quality assurance, local manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and traditional medicinal products.

The others are rational drug use through education and training, drug information, prescribing, dispensing, patient information and counselling and drugs therapeutics committees. The rest are global trade and pharmaceuticals, emerging disease and pharmaceuticals, human resource development for drug management, traditional medicinal products, research and development and national drugs policy implementation.

In an address read on his behalf, Mr Felix D. Yellu, Chief Pharmacist of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said steps have been taken with support from foreign donors to locate pharmaceutical facilities in the rural districts of the country.

He said the public interest would not be served by merely increasing access to medicines without corresponding improvement in quality, effective promotion and rational use and safety of such medicines. "It is therefore in this vein that this new/revised edition of the National Drug Policy (NDP) clearly emphasises and highlights the key roles and responsibilities of the several stakeholders including you", he said.

Mr Yellu said the successful implementation the National New Drug Policy would be crucial to the success of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

In a goodwill message read for him, Dr Melville George, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Ghana commended the document for its comprehensiveness as it went beyond selection and procurement of medicines to include financing, quality assurance, human resource development, research and development.

He said the drive towards increasing profits, aggressive promotion and increasing demand for medicines, and the infiltration of fake drugs into developing countries, such a document was needed to protect the population to ensure that they benefit from proper access to the right medicines which are safe, of the best quality and prescribed in optimum conditions.

He said the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) needed to be strengthened to ensure that the regulatory framework and control systems for its various functions are in place to ensure that quality and safe medicines are prescribed rationally for use in Ghana. 22 04.05.

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