As part of the government’s continued efforts to enhance access to and delivery of health care to Ghanaians, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has released the policy and guidelines for the National E-Pharmacy initiative.
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The E-Pharmacy initiative is projected to alter access to pharmaceutical care in Ghana when it is completely operational in 2022, making Ghana one of just a few nations in the world with a national scale e-pharmacy.
Vice President Bawumia, speaking in Accra on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, recalled that at the Annual General Meeting of Pharmacists a few years ago, he challenged the Pharmacists to explore greater ways of incorporating technology into their operations in ways that, among other things, improve access, efficiency, and the availability of medicines across the country, particularly in rural and less urban areas.
The problem, he added, has since been taken up by the Pharmacy Council, Pharmaceutical Society, and other stakeholders, resulting in the formation of a national e-pharmacy policy and guidelines.
“Today, we’re here to unveil a top-tier innovation that will revolutionize access to pharmaceutical care in Ghana, supporting the government’s efforts to enhance access to and delivery of health care to our more than 30 million people,” he said.
Dr Bawumia vowed that the government understands the gaps in our health infrastructure and is dedicated to closing as many of them as possible by investing in human resources, physical infrastructure, and all other parts of our health system.
“While tackling inadequate infrastructure in the health sector, it is disheartening to see people spend so much time moving from one pharmacy to the other in search of medication.
“The innovation in improving pharmacy access to our people through E-Pharmacy can be a game-changer in safeguarding the future of our youth and ensuring rational and responsible access to medicines on a scale we have not yet been able to achieve.
“Today, we are adding to the growing list of digitized platforms. E-pharmacy should help us address concerns for the proliferation of fake drugs because there will be a link to the database of the Food and Drugs Authority to authenticate the approval or otherwise of the medicines on offer; check unlicensed pharmacy operations; reduce disparities in the cost of medicines and tackle some of the major administrative and delivery issues that affect the practice of pharmacy.”
Pharmacist to Patient Ratio
The introduction of this cutting-edge health technology, he emphasized, should help tackle at least 4 critical concerns in the healthcare system: reduce Pharmacist to the Patient ratio which is currently five times higher than the ratio recommended by the World Health Organization; improve confidentiality and privacy of patient medical records; minimize wrong self-diagnosis and self-medication, and reduce counterfeit and substandard medication.
“At its full implementation, the National E-pharmacy platform will enable the public to obtain genuine medicines from accredited pharmacies.
“The global e-pharmacy market is worth about $81 billion today and it is expected to grow to $244 billion by 2027. With the national E-Pharmacy platform, Ghana will be part of this new pharmaceutical digital economy. The evidence from India also indicates that the national e-pharmacy is likely to boost pharmaceutical sales by between 100-200%. It is therefore a win-win for all.
“As we embark on this new path, please do not hesitate to give feedback to Pharmacy Council so that the policy and the system can be improved continuously with the ultimate goal of making it easier and safer for Ghanaians to access medicines in a responsible manner.”