E-Pharmacy: Full speech delivered by Vice President
Good morning to everyone.
1. It is a great pleasure to join you here today and I bring you the warmest greetings from His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana.
2. Let me begin by extending my sincerest gratitude to the Pharmacy Council and the Pharmaeutical Society of Ghana for inviting me as Guest Speaker on this special occasion. Today, we are here to Launch a top tier innovation that will transform access to pharmaceutical care in Ghana, complementing the Government’s attempt to improve access to and delivery of health care to the near 30 million population.
3. This innovation is dear to government. A few years ago, at the Annual General Meeting of Pharmacists, I threw a challenge to pharmacists.
a. How can we use technology to improve access to pharmaceutical care in Ghana in a manner that complements our traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy?
b. Yes, there is that personal touch to the traditional face-to-face patient-pharmacist relationship, but are there ways that technology can improve access and delivery, especially to the large segment of the population scattered in the rural and less urban areas.
c. And even for those in the urban areas, how can technonology reduce the information costs and transactions costs in accessing pharmaceutical services?
d. And can we tap into technology to re-imagine the delivery and overall management of pharmaceuitical care in Ghana in ways that improve access, efficiency and the availability of medicines across the country?
4. My deepest gratitude to Pharmacy Council, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, all pharmacists, key stakeholders and the committee that has worked tirelessly to respond to some of the challenges and to invite us here today to show how far we have come in the delivery of pharmaceutical services in Ghana.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think they all deserve a huge round of applause.
5. A firm believer that progress is a necessity and that we can always do something better tomorrow than we are doing today, I have often emphasized the need to restructure our economy, tapping into technological progress, innovation and into the depth of our human capabilities. And we must also keep abreast with the advancements of today’s world in all aspects of society.
6. Indeed, as a country, we are not there yet but our progress so far is not to be taken for granted and we intend to entrench further our vision of making the single largest investment in our country’s health sector.
7. Government recognizes the gaps in our health infrastructure and he is committed to filing as many of the gaps as possible in building our human resources, in our physical infrastructure, and in all the complementary aspects of our health system.
8. Ladies and Gentlemen,
a. The innovations in our national health insurance system
b. The deepening in the training of our human resources and recruitment of health personnel
c. The One Constituency One Ambulance programme
d. The use of drones in the delivery of drugs,
e. The innovations in institutional digital frameworks of the health sector, and
are all major steps to achieving our goals.
9. 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.
10. The innovation in improving pharmacy access to our people through E-Pharmacy can be a game changer in safe-guarding the future of our youth and ensuring rational and responsible access to medicines on a scale we have not yet been able to achieve.
11. Today, we are adding to the growing list of digitized platforms. E-pharmacy should help us address concerns for the proliferation of fake drugs due to a direct link with the FDA to approve all medicines dispenced by the pharmacies, 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.
12. The introduction of this cutting-edge health technology should help tackle at least 4 critical concerns of our healthcare system:
a. Reduce Pharmacist to Patient ratio
b. Improve confidentiality and privacy of patient medical records
c. Minimize wrong self diagnosis and self-medication
d. Reduce counterfeit and substandard medication
13. Ghana’s current pharmacist to patient ratio of 1: 10,000 is 5 times higher than 1:2,000 recommended by the World Health Organization.
14. The launch of the E-pharmacy platform will help improve the pharmacist-patient ratio by reducing the need for physical contact with pharmacists. This will lessen healthcare provider dependency since subscribers can access vital health information with the help of a pharmacist without necessarily going to the pharmacy. Both Patients and Pharmacists will not need to travel far to receive or dispense medicines.
15. People who visit pharmacies are concerned about the confidentiality of their health information. While it is important to acknowledge that our healthcare providers have generally acted professionally over the years, it is also reassuring to highlight the importance of the e-pharmacy platform in promoting privacy and confidentiality.
Self-diagnosis and self-medication
16. Ladies and Gentlemen, the incidence of wrong self-diagnosis and self-medication dominate our health environment. The doctrine of “Kofi and Ama” had headache and took aspirin cannot always apply for all who have headache. A lot of illnesses have mutated to make headaches a common manifest symptom.
17. Ghana’s E-pharmacy will discourage self-diagnosis and self-medication by providing the right platform to facilitate appropriate pharmaceutical care.
Counterfeit and sub-standard medicines
18. Ladies and Gentlemen, the issue of counterfeit and sub-standard medicines is also a menace to society. I urge all pharmacists to continue their efforts in educating the public about the dangers of taking sub-standard and counterfeit medicines and why it is important to obtain their medications from the right sources. We must curb the use of substandard medications.
19. At its full implementation, the National E-pharmacy platform will enable the public to obtain genuine medicines from accredited pharmacies.
20. The global e-pharmacy market is worth about $81 billion today and it is expected to grow 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 boost pharmaceutical sales by between 100-200%. It is therefore a win-win for all.
21. 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.
22. We expect full operationalization of the National E-Pharmacy in 2022, and when done, Ghana be one of a handful, possibly less than 10, with a national scale e-pharmacy in the world.
23. On this note, I declare the National E-pharmacy journey for Ghana duly launched.
Thank you for your attention.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana