The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has launched a GH¢3.34 million coronavirus disease (COVID-19) support programme to help Ghana’s pharmaceutical companies address vulnerabilities in the sector's supply chain.
The package, which will be disbursed to local manufacturers of pharmaceutical products over the next 12 months, is part of an intervention to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 in the country.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, who launched the package deal in Accra yesterday, commended the Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG) and all stakeholders in the industry for their collaborative role in ensuring that the pharmaceutical sector received the needed support.
He said the pharmaceutical industry was one of the new strategic anchor industries that were being promoted by the government to help diversify the economy beyond cocoa, gold and timber.
"The pharmaceutical market in Ghana is currently estimated at $600 million, with a compounded annual growth rate of 13.9 per cent, with local companies supplying about 33 per cent of the national essential medicines requirement," Mr Kyerematen said.
The minister said the 38 pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in the country had positioned Ghana as the most vibrant pharmaceutical destination in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
"The positive perception of neighbouring countries about the country’s regulatory capacity positions the industry for investments and exports into the sub-region," he said.
He said the industry must take advantage of the wider market to be created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to expand their export reach.
Mr Kyerematen emphasised that in order to sustain the momentum of growth in the sector, some key elements along the value chain would need investment support.
The support, he said, must include investment financing and joint ventures to upgrade existing pharmaceutical plants for compliance with good international manufacturing practices and standards.
Furthermore, he said, the positive outlook for the pharmaceutical sector’s development and ongoing activities aimed at supporting the sector had regrettably been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with serious implications on the sector in the short, medium and long term.
The Chairman of the Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy, Mr Harrison Kofi Abutiate, observed that the pandemic had not only disrupted ongoing activities aimed at supporting the pharmaceutical sector but also had serious short to long-term implications on the overall performance of the industry.
"The global supply chain for active pharmaceutical ingredients, finished pharmaceutical products and other health commodities has been severely disrupted. The prices of pharmaceutical ingredients manufactured in China have not only risen but the items are also unavailable after extended factory closures," he said.
"This is coming at a time when Ghana expects a surge in demand for life-saving commodities. The situation is also creating a challenging business environment which may lead to job losses," he added.
He applauded the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK for its intervention, which he said would go a long way to safeguard the industry from total collapse.
For his part, the Development Director of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK), Mr Phillip Smith, said the package was to support Ghana’s economic transformation, in line with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
"Additionally, the support will hopefully open up opportunities for greater partnerships between the UK’s and Ghana’s private sectors," he said.
Mr Smith said the support to the pharmaceutical industry would ensure that jobs and capacity in the sector were maintained largely during this COVID-19 recovery phase, while about 1,000 more jobs would be created through new and potentially green investments in the sector.
"For example, we are exploring partnerships between pharma industries in the UK and Ghana on issues such as joint ventures and technology transfer and exploration around vaccines production and deployment in Ghana," he said.
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