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Drug Prices Rise

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A group of expects in the health sector have expressed worry over the high cost of drugs in the country at an orientation forum for health reporters and members of civil Society Organisations in the country. The forum organized by Medicine Transparency Alliance in Ghana (MeTa) is to create consciousness and enhance dissemination of information on the health industry.

MeTa Ghana is an international initiative that aims to increase transparency in the registration, procurement, distribution and sales of essential medicines in developing countries. Dr. Alex Dosoo, a pharmacist and co-chair of MeTa said essential medicines were too expensive for some people or a segment of the population while "Good quality medicines are often unavailable. "There is also perceived fraud and corruption within the medicine supply chain, coupled with poor management in both the private and public sector.

To increase access to good quality affordable medicines, Dr. Dosoo noted that it will be necessary to tackle corruption and mismanagement and to proactively engage the civil society and the private sector. He mentioned that key challenges in enhancing access to affordable and quality drugs include low consumer awareness due to very little information on quality and availability and prices of medicines in the public domain. Citing a 2004 WHO medicine survey, he observed that the benefits of improved procurement are not translating into affordability and availability for patients.

"The few local manufacturers produce only generics and are producing under-capacity," he said. Edith Andrews Annan of the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that globally, one third of the world’s population lack access to essential medicines, with 50% of the people who lack regular access, living in Africa and Asia. According to a WHO sponsored survey, in Ghana, it is estimated that 49% of the population have access to essential medicines, with 31% lacking access to it while it costs an average of 1.18 of a day’s wage to treat pneumonia in adults and 1.45 for children.

She was of the opinion that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition She stressed that access to essential medicines of assured quality is one of the key indicators of equity and social justice. "Essential medicines are intended to be available within the contest of functioning healthcare systems at all times, in adequate amounts, appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at a price the individual and community can afford."

Charles Allotey of MeTa, speaking on the problems of medicines and prices, hinted that due to the lack of medicine pricing policies in many developing countries, "prices of medicines are well above their production costs", and that there is great hope for reductions to improve access. Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt of the Ghana National Drugs Programme educated that under PNDCL 305B and LI 1541, it is an offence to offer for sale, products that are unwholesome, improperly labelled or expired

Daniel Kojo Arhinful, a Research Fellow and Senior Technical Advisor, MeTa Ghana, said," the National Health Insurance Scheme but for the poor coordination among stakeholders, offers significant opportunities to improve transparency, accountability, pricing and quality, yet, there are also huge challenges".

Credit PeaceFM




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