Christabel Addo, GNA
Accra, June 22, GNA - The third edition of the Ghana National Medicines Policy (NMP) has been launched as a health sector document to provide guidance and direction on pharmaceuticals and other health technologies.
The 2017 NMP, which was launched by Mrs Samira Bawumia, in Accra on Friday, is the third edition of the Policy document since its first publication in 1999 and a later reviewed in 2004.
Mrs Bawumia in an address, acknowledged the hard work of the Ministry of Health and its Partners towards ensuring health security through access to quality medicines, saying the reviewed Policy perfectly aligned to the government’s vision of ensuring national development through a healthy population.
She affirmed the commitment of the government towards ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare, including the availability of important drugs for key populations such as pregnant women and children.
She noted that the inadequate supply of key medicines led to lack of confidence in the health system, hence the launch of the revised Policy to help coordinate drug supplies, bridge the equality gaps in terms of geographical access, ensure quality services, and promote local production to ensure self-sufficiency
Professor Irene Agyapong, the Chairperson of the National Medicines Policy Review Committee, gave a brief overview of the NMP, explaining that the Policy represented decisions based on the current evidence, the consensus position of all stakeholders as well as the general direction of governance.
She said it sought to actualise the commitment of the Government of Ghana, towards the goal of ensuring universal, equitable and sustainable access to priority, efficacious and safe medicines, taking into consideration other technologies of acceptable quality, as well as cost for all people living in Ghana.
The Policy, she said further aimed at promoting the responsible use of medicines by healthcare providers and consumers, and aligned to the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the SDG 3, which was to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
The NMP expressed the government’s commitment towards Universal Health Coverage, and the national vision of development through healthy population.
She said the implementation of the five-year plan for the policy, which had been costed, with clear responsibilities and measurement metrics for all implementing stakeholders, focused on activities to ensure effective planning, coordination and monitoring of the implementation process by the Ministry of Health.
This, she said, would ensure country ownership and commitment, stakeholder consensus, as well as evidence and practice in making collective decisions for the country and ensuring that such conclusions were optimised for implementation in the coming years.
Prof. Agyapong mentioned the key strategic areas considered in the revised Policy as including the bridging of equity gaps in geographical access to health services, ensuring sustainable financing for health care delivery, improving efficiency in governance and management, intensified provision and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and improving quality of health services delivery including mental health.
She said the Policy document covered broad areas such as selections, strategic purchasing; quality assurance; use of medicines, global trade, research and development; as well as governance and implementation plan.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, said one of the key areas of the Policy was improving local manufacturing to support health outcomes.
He therefore stated that in addition to the removal of Valued Added Tax (VAT) on pharmaceutical imputes, the Ministry had also issued an Executive Instrument (EI 181), to restrict the production of 49 products to local industry only.
The roadmap to “Good Manufacturing Practice”, as agreed among the stakeholders, he said was also on course, stressing that it was in the President’s vision of “Ghana beyond Aid”, meaning the sector must explore all avenues to become self-sufficient in the issues of life, well-being and health.