President John Evans Atta Mills has said that the 54 per cent of payments made by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) on the cost of medicine for clients is unsustainable.
“This high expenditure on medicines alone poses a major threat to the sustainability of our National Health Insurance Scheme,” he said in a speech read on his behalf at the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) in Kumasi on Thursday.
President Mills, who was represented by Mr Rojo Mettle Nunoo, Deputy Minister of Health, said a monitoring exercise undertaken by the NHIA revealed high prevalence of prescriptions especially, expensive brands of the drug and pain killers.
The highlight of the five-day event of PSGH’s celebration was the conferment of an Honorary Fellowship, the highest award of the Society on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
The celebration is being held on the theme: “PSGH at 75: Celebrating the contributions of Pharmacists to National Development” and would include an Annual General Meeting and a Dinner Awards ceremony.
President Mills said some pharmacies and chemical sellers’ shops have also been involved in fraudulent practices, making it necessary to change the current prescription form in use.
“Fortunately, the sixth edition of the Standard Treatment Guidelines and the Essential Medicines List for Ghana are now available,” he stated.
“I would urge the PSGH to take an active interest in the dissemination of these two documents and to be involved in the orientation of service providers on the use of these documents,” the President said.
The two documents set out the standards for stocking and use of medicines at the various levels of the health care delivery system and for the management of the individual patient.
President Mills asked PSGH to lead the way in making Ghana a leading centre for the production and export of pharmaceuticals.
“The Pharmaceutical industry is of national strategic importance in all countries and I am determined to ensure that the industry in Ghana will take its rightful place in securing for us all needed essential medicines.”
Dr Alexander Dodoo, President of the Society, said the NHIS could not be successful without pharmacists, explaining that the majority of patients and more than 90 percent of health conditions are managed by the professional body.
The society, he said, is anxious of the capitation policy by the NHIA and called on the government for wider consultation with stakeholders before piloting the programme.
“Even though the policy may be well-meaning, it can seriously jeopardize the stable pharmaceutical environment and can adversely affect the NHIS. We are willing and ready to work with government to ensure that patients, government and the Health Service get the best as far as medicines are concerned.”
Dr Dodoo expressed dissatisfaction that pharmacists are completely ignored in laws promulgated to govern their profession, “while some components do not reflect the views, wishes and essential views of the whole body of Pharmacy.”
He noted that to meet the global changing trend, every student to be enrolled for Pharmacy courses from 2011/2012 academic year, would undertake a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) Programme.
The Pharm D Pharmacist would be equipped with competencies to make him or her an expert on medicines and their clients.
Madam Clavenda Bright-Parker, Ambassador at Large and Special Envoy of the President of Liberia, Mrs Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, said new challenges in the treatment of diseases such as Malaria and Tuberculosis call for innovative research methods to reverse the trend.
She asked Pharmacists to be at the forefront in the fight against counterfeit drugs.
Professor Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa, outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), expressed the hope that the Society’s anniversary would provide the needed platform for deliberations that would streamline pharmaceutical practice in Ghana.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, whose conferment attracted cheers, thrilled the crowd with his light-hearted speech that he is an honorary fellow of the PSGH and that nobody could bully him with pharmaceutical terminologies.
The Asantehene spoke against the proliferation of fake drugs in the country and urged pharmacists to lead the crusade against the practice.
A citation that accompanied his conferment described him as an “Ambassador of Peace and Diplomat par excellent” who has brought innovation to the chieftaincy institution.