SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GHANA (PSGH), PHARM. DR. SAMUEL KOW DONKOH ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2023 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING/CONFERENCE HELD IN TAKORADI, AT THE ASHLEY LASSEN HANGAR, AIRFORCE BASE, TAKORADI, ON 5TH-8TH SEPTEMBER 2023
- The Honorable Minister for Health and Member of Parliament (MP) for Dormaa Central in the Bono Region, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu
- Special Guest of Honour, Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, the Chief of Defense Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces
- The Western Regional Minister, and special guest, Hon. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah
- Our astute thematic speaker, Sir Samuel E. Jonah
- Registrars of the Pharmacy Council and HeFRA
- Directors of Pharmacy,
- Representatives of Stakeholder Institutions, organisations and Sister Associations.
- Governing Board of PSGH
- Fellows and members of the PSGH
- Distinguished Invited Guests,
- Friends from the Media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome & Salutations
I stand before you today with immense pride and gratitude as we gather for the 88th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. It is an absolute honor and privilege to welcome you all to this significant event.
In what is now the second hybrid AGM since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot express enough how elated I am to see your familiar faces once again. To our colleagues who have joined us virtually via the Hopin platform, I extend a heartfelt welcome to this gathering. In this era of remarkable technological innovations, your virtual presence is just as vital and appreciated as those of us gathered here in Takoradi. It serves as a testament to our adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity.
Highlights of the first 2 years
As we mark the conclusion of my first term as President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, I am filled with a profound sense of honor and gratitude. Over the past two years, we have embarked on a remarkable journey together, one that has been marked by challenges, achievements, and the collective spirit of progress that defines our society.
Let us take a moment to reflect on some of our most significant achievements:
- We have provided comprehensive, skill-based training to 30 pharmacists in small-scale manufacturing of herbal and allopathic medicines. Notably, at least two pharmacists have reported their intent to establish businesses in small-scale manufacturing and compounding.
- Our commitment to education and advancement is exemplified by the scholarship opportunities we extended to six pharmacists, enabling them to pursue clinical specialist programs at the prestigious Ghana College of Pharmacists.
- Through our unrelenting advocacy efforts, we have ensured that pharmacists receive training at the Ghana College of Pharmacists to become certified vaccinators. Moreover, we drafted and submitted a Guideline and Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for Vaccination against COVID-19 (and other vaccine preventable diseases) in pharmacies. This critical document has been validated, approved, and formally launched by the Ministry of Health.
- Recognizing the importance of financial security, we rolled out a life insurance policy aimed at providing financial risk protection to pharmacists and their immediate relatives in the event of selected critical illnesses or death. Impressively, in its first year, 367 pharmacists enrolled in this program, and two pharmacists have already benefited from claims.
- In partnership with Access Bank, we organized a groundbreaking forum titled “Building a Sustainable Pharmaceutical Business in Ghana.” This capacity-building webinar equipped businesses and pharmacists with the necessary tools to enhance pharmaceutical enterprises, make informed decisions, and navigate the unique challenges of our market. It has been instrumental in preparing businesses for exponential growth.
- We are in the final stages of reaching agreements with several banks and financial institutions to provide flexible, affordable, and hassle-free financing mechanisms for members aspiring to establish their own retail facilities and small-scale manufacturing businesses.
- In a significant digital transformation, we have fully digitalized the PSGH journal. All past issues of the print journal, dating as far back as the 1970s, have been meticulously converted into digital format and archived online. Each published article will now be assigned a DOI, and our medium-term plan is to attain international credibility by 2025 through indexing on globally acclaimed services such as Ajol, Scopus, DOAJ, Pubmed, Pubmed Central, and Medline.
- We have achieved a significant milestone by adding pharmacy technicians to GHOSPA’s bargaining certificate, and we are actively working on the modalities to bring them under the broader PSGH umbrella.
These remarkable accomplishments and more will be discussed in-depth during our forthcoming business session on Friday. As we conclude my first term, we stand at the threshold of a new chapter—a time for our society to build upon the strong foundation we have laid and to reach even greater heights.
I want to express my unwavering confidence in our leadership team and all our esteemed members to carry forward the vision of a thriving pharmaceutical sector that serves the people of Ghana with excellence, compassion, and innovation. Together, we will continue to drive progress and make a meaningful impact on healthcare in our nation.
Before I continue, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to express my deep appreciation for the dedication, resilience, and unwavering commitment displayed by my Governing Board Members, various committees, the PSGH secretariat, and the entire PSGH membership. Our collective achievements stand as a testament to the incredible power of unity and collaboration.
2023 AGM Theme
This year’s conference theme, “Pharmacists for National Development,” goes to the heart of our profession and our unwavering commitment to the growth, progress, and well-being of our beloved nation. As we gather here today, we embark on a journey to explore, deliberate, and advocate for the pivotal role that pharmacists play in shaping the destiny of our nation. Our collective knowledge, expertise, and dedication have the power to transcend boundaries and transform lives, forging a path towards a brighter and healthier future for all Ghanaians.
Messages to Government, Pharmacists, and the General Public
I am confident that our chosen thematic speaker will provide profound insights into this theme, and I look forward to their address. On my side as President of PSGH I wish to make a few remarks to our stakeholders.
To the Government,
- I implore you to address the issue of pharmacist employment in the government health sector. There has been a noticeable decline in employment opportunities for pharmacists in recent years, leading to critical shortages in some public facilities. This shortage extends beyond pharmacy dispensaries and includes clinical pharmacists who play a crucial role in patient care. I urge the Ministry of Health to take urgent steps to ensure an adequate number of pharmacists are employed across the country, especially in underserved areas. Incentives should also be introduced to attract pharmacists to these areas.
- Furthermore, I bring to your attention the recurring issue of posting and payment of pharmacists’ house officers. Almost every year, young pharmacists are forced to navigate bureaucratic hurdles to ensure they are paid during their housemanship. It is imperative that a solution is found to this problem. I appeal to the Honorable Minister to constitute a committee comprising representatives from PSGH, Pharmacy Council, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Finance to investigate this matter thoroughly and recommend lasting solutions that will end this annual ordeal for our young pharmacists.
- Lastly, as we discuss national development, one area of deep concern within the pharmaceutical sector is the local pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Despite the development of the Pharmaceutical Sector Development Strategy, progress has been slow in implementing the tactical plans outlined in the strategy. I urge the government to expedite the rollout of the strategy and make Ghana the focal point for the production of medicines in West Africa. The potential economic impact of a robust pharmaceutical sector cannot be underestimated, and it can significantly contribute to the growth of our nation’s economy.
To my fellow pharmacists
- I am excited to share updates on our pharmacy center project and the implementation of our group life insurance policy. We have made significant strides in these areas, and they hold great promise for the future of our profession.
Regarding the pharmacy center project, I am pleased to announce that we have secured all the necessary documentation and approvals. We are currently in the process of selecting a contractor to commence the work. In the coming months, we anticipate the commencement of construction, with the hope that, in the near future, I will stand before you once again to share the good news of the completion of at least one of the project’s three phases. However, this endeavor comes with responsibilities. Our current contribution of 100 Ghana cedis per year toward the project may not be sufficient to ensure its timely completion. Therefore, please be prepared for discussions on efficient ways to raise the necessary funds when the time comes, guided by the Twi saying, “Kwakye ade ye fe nanso yede sika na eye.”
Furthermore, the implementation of our group life insurance policy is underway. As of now, it remains voluntary, and some members who have enrolled have already reaped its benefits. Given the welfare issues that occasionally come to our attention, we have considered making the group welfare scheme mandatory for all pharmacists. A proposal to this effect will be presented during the business session, where a binding decision will be taken to ensure that we are adequately supported in times of unforeseen challenges.
- I am excited to inform you of changes within our practice group and interest group. AREPI has been rebranded and will now be known as Pharmacists in Regulatory Affairs, Sales and Marketing (PRASMA) to ensure that all pharmacists in marketing can join, not just those in multinational biopharmaceutical companies. Similarly, YPG has undergone a name change and will now be known as Early Career Pharmaceutical Group (ECPG), as per FIP-approved guidelines. These changes reflect our commitment to inclusivity and adapting to the evolving needs of our members.
To the general public
I would like to reiterate that pharmacists are highly trained professionals with a deep understanding of medications. We are here to assist you at all times. When you visit a pharmacy, please do not hesitate to request a conversation with your pharmacist regarding any medication you wish to access. If you ever have doubts about your medicines, remember that we pharmacists are here as your trusted friends, always ready to provide guidance and support on your healthcare journey.
In conclusion, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all our partners and sponsors, and I wish them success in their endeavors. I also want to express my profound gratitude to all those who have contributed to the meticulous planning of this event, especially Pharm Yaa Adwo-Osei, Chairperson of the Planning Committee. Your dedication and hard work are truly exceptional.
To the distinguished pharmacists gathered here today, I extend my warmest welcome to the 2023 Annual General Meeting of our Society. May our deliberations be fruitful, and may we continue to achieve remarkable milestones as we work together to advance our profession and serve the people of Ghana.