Accra, June 30, GNA – The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) on Thursday organised a day’s
stakeholders meeting in Accra on the challenges facing Community Practice Pharmacies (CPP) in Ghana especially under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The meeting, which was jointly organised by Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC), attracted stakeholders including pharmacists, members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, representatives from the Ministry of Finance an Economic Planning, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and NHIS was on the theme: “Mainstreaming Pharmacy Practice for a comprehensive healthcare delivery in Ghana.”
The stakeholders examined the 37-page report that looks among other things NHIS, the CPP in Ghana, delays in provider claims reimbursement, decreasing prescription turnover and the proposed capitation system.
The National Health Insurance Act 650 was passed into law in 2003 to secure the provision of basic healthcare services to persons resident in Ghana through mutual and private health insurance schemes. The goal was to ensure equitable and universal access to healthcare for the citizenry.
Mr James Ohemeng Kyei, President of PSGH expressed dissatisfaction about the “Pick and Choose Private Provider Support System of the NHIA under which the Authority selects accredited private hospitals and clinics to be on board the NHIS in terms of direct care costs as well as indirect and overhead costs without provision of similar support to accredited community pharmacies.
He noted that NHIS medicines list and prices is used by both private and public sector pharmacists despite the fact that pharmacists on public hospitals and clinics have government’s support.
Mr Kyei also expressed dissatisfaction about non-involvement of CPP on the design and implementation of capitation as an option for financing healthcare in Ghana.
The President of PSGH also opposed the licensing of non-pharmacists in the dispensation of drugs, describing the trend as dangerous to public health.
Dr Berko Panyin Anto, the lead researcher observed that delay in claims reimbursement creates challenges for accredited service providers in terms of capital lock up, adding that CPP depends on prescription inflow for survival.
He said the country’s professional powers of prescribing and dispensing remains blurred and if the trend is not checked the NHIS would have to pay unnecessary bills which would lead to economic waste and therefore compromise sustainability of the scheme.
Professor Kwame Sarpong, former Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology said the practice of drug prescription and dispensing at the same facility is contrary to international best practice and does not encourage patients to go to NHIS community pharmacists of their choice.
He said the NHIA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and the teaching hospitals should engage stakeholders including accredited community pharmacies as the programme of capitation is being piloted in the Ashanti Region.
“Such an engagement should discuss any implementation related challenges of capitation as a health care financing option in Ghana and take on board the concerns of accredited community pharmacies.”
Mr Ambrose Yenah, Business Service Provider of BUSAC who spoke on “Advocacy as Tool to influence policy change”, identified some of the pitfalls of advocacy such as inadequate planning, weak institutional capacity and ineffective relationship.
He said advocacy calls for good communications flow, maintaining of relationship, knowing the right targets and identifying people with power and influence to deal with.
BUSAC aims at broadening the engagement of the private sector in policy formulation implementation.