An initiative which aims to address the barriers of access, affordability and quality of essential medicines in Ghana through a regulated digital supply chain platform, has been launched in Accra.

Entrepreneurial not-for-profit organisation, PharmAccess Ghana’s digital platform, MED4ALL, is expected to link health service providers with certified and authentic medicines.

According to the Country Director of PharmAccess, Dr Maxwell Akwasi Antwi, the project will also cut down turnaround time in acquiring medicines for healthcare delivery.

With an estimated 30% of medicines in Ghana being reported fake or substandard, leading to failure to treat illnesses and unnecessary deaths, the foundation says the time has come to reduce these incidents.

“The platform connects trusted medicines to healthcare providers. By trusted we mean medicines approved by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the suppliers themselves having approval by the authority,’’ Dr Antwi told pressmen at the launch of the platform.

He said the platform will also ensure affordability of medicines for providers, so that “prices are within the purchasing power of the consumers.”

Another issue the innovation is expected to tackle is drug shortages.

With the platform, he said, “patients will be able to access drugs at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies at any given time.”

Regarding how the platform will work, Dr Antwi said, “A provider would be required to get onto the MED4ALL platform and log in, and then a dropdown of all essential medicines in Ghana would pop up.”

All the prices of the drugs on the platform would have been negotiated and the supplies determined. The provider would then key in the quantum of tablets of medicines required – after which the supply is automatically notified.

The supplier is expected to make the supply within seven days and gets paid within 30 days.

PharmAccess Foundation is partnering with the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), Ghana’s largest network of private not for profit health facilities that accounts for an annual 6.5 million patient visits and admissions across 345 facilities, particularly serving poor and remote communities.

Speaking at the launch of the digital platform, CEO of the Association, Peter K. Yeboah noted, “Ghana ranks is seventh when it comes to substandard spurious fake medicines in the world, hence the MED4ALL project with its embedded digital quality control measures and devices will ensure medicines quality at all times.”

He added, “CHAG is going to collaborate with FDA to ensure we leverage their licensing mechanisms including barcoding of medicines, barcoding, mini lab testing, medicine transport tracking and use of infrared scanning resources.”

Mr Yeboah assured every medicine that is supplied in a CHAG facility, through MED4ALL, will be submitted to quality assurance testing at all times, with a  unique transport and distribution system instituted to facilitate the chain.

According to him, “all medicines that will be purchased will be delivered within 7 days at no extra cost to the receiving CHAG facility, while suppliers are assured of feasible financing mechanisms.”

The CHAG CEO assured suppliers under the MED4ALL project will be paid within 30 days of delivery and prices will stay 30 per cent below the prevailing prices on the market.

“CHAG seeks to complement government’s efforts in attaining universal health coverage with sustainable and innovative selection, procurement, distribution and use of quality affordable medicines in Ghana.”

The MED4ALL platform already has its first four trusted reputable suppliers of medicines comprising pharmaceutical giants Kinapharma Ltd, Ernest Chemist Ltd, Pharmanova Ltd and Tobinco Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

PharmAccess says MED4ALL will be opened up to other public and private facilities after the pilot phase.

Among the interventions to overcome challenges patients and health institutions face, the platform will, “support healthcare facilities with effective inventory management tools, and train them to manage stocks and ordering based on demand.”

MED4ALL will support facilities with swift access to credit through the Medical Credit Fund (MCF), part of the PharmAccess Group, which enables facilities to pre-finance medicine stocks.

In partnership with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and Fidelity Bank, MCF pre-finances insurance claims to enable facilities to buy medicines stock directly, without waiting for many months or years to pay for medicine suppliers.

PharmAccess Foundation is an entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit organization with a digital agenda dedicated to connecting more people to better healthcare in Africa. In Africa, almost everyone has access to a mobile phone.

PharmAccess Foundation believes that mobile technology is on the verge of improving healthcare in Africa in a way that none of us can fully imagine yet.


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