Ministry Of Health Reviews National Drug Policy

The Ministry of Health has revised the National Drug Policy renamed National Medicines Policy in order to strengthen pharmaceutical systems and improve access to good quality and safe medicines. Also examined in the new policy included; medicines selection, procurement, responsible use of medicines, local manufacturers, herbal medicines, quality assurance, policy co-ordination and implementation, financing and pricing. Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, Minister of Health, said at a stakeholders meeting that in highlighting the key areas for revision, due cognisance ought to be given to availability of resources, the huge clinical and economic potential of medicines in disease management and the socio-economic environment. The draft policy should be formulated with an inherent flexibility to accommodate future developments and changes in the overall vision of attaining health for all, he said. He said: “The Ministry expects efficient implementation of this policy including shared implementation strategies with time lines as necessary. “We expect improved policy co-ordination and implementation in the years ahead,” adding that the Ministry would endeavour to facilitate the financing of the actions stemming from the policy to realise the required goals and objectives. Dr Agyemang-Mensah said given the inputs of the stakeholders with the demonstrable political will from Government, the document would remain the official policy to guide the pharmaceutical sector in Ghana. Mr Joseph Yileh Chireh, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, called for a legislative backing to ensure efficient operationalisation of the new policy. He said the policy would be difficult to implement without the required legislative push, and that the needed legal backing funds could be provided to facilitate its smooth implementation for quality health service delivery. Mr Bedima Duut, Goaso Municipal Health Director, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the revised policy document was very good and perhaps incomparable to what pertained in other jurisdictions but the implementation was a key challenge. He said given the needed human resource, financial, material or logistical support the policy could be described as the best the nation had ever had. The new National Medicines Policy is the policy instrument of the Ministry of Health to govern the pharmaceutical sector to ensure sustainable access to medicines in the country. The document is the third edition of the National Medicines Policy prepared by the Ministry of Health through a Technical Working Group. The revision was informed by the need to strengthen pharmaceutical systems to meet the ever-changing health needs of the population and sustain the gains made in ensuring financial access to medicines for the poor and vulnerable. It was also informed by the need to strengthen the supply chain systems as a key component of health systems, develop local pharmaceutical industry, and reinforce the regulation of pharmaceuticals as well as a call for sustainable measures towards universal health coverage. It was again guided by the Health Sector Medium Term Strategy; the World Health Organisation guidelines for drug policy development and current trends in implementation of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement and its Public Health Safeguards. A statement issued and copied to the GNA said the issues guiding the review also included the need for transparency and accountability in the governance of the sector, efficient procurement mechanisms as well as sustainable financial access to medicines to protect the poor and vulnerable. It said the policy document was to provide direction and guidance for the pharmaceutical sector in Ghana to align its actions to the policy to ensure convergence of action and purpose, and maximise investments in health for better outcomes.