Accra, Ghana – March 18, 2024

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) is deeply troubled by some critical issues bordering on Ghana’s access to health commodities from the Global Fund that can have serious consequences for the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

As it stands now, there  are health commodities worth $45 million not cleared from the port since August 2023. These include malaria Rapid Diagnostic Testkits (RDTs), Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), Antiretrovirals (ARVs) among others. This delay in clearance is because Global Fund as part of its policy does not finance taxes and levies and the latter is the reason for the delay in clearing the commodities from the port. The PSGH understands that there is currently complete stock-out of malaria RDTS. While some health facilities do not have stocks of ARVs, there will be complete stock out of ARVs in the country by May 2024.

This deadlock therefore imperils the health and well-being of numerous Ghanaians grappling with the debilitating conditions of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. Ghana recently commemorated 20 years of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) usage, celebrating significant strides in combating HIV and enhancing patient outcomes.

However, the current impasse jeopardizes these achievements. Access to timely treatment is imperative, as delays could precipitate health deterioration, heightened viral loads, and the emergence of drug resistance. Such setbacks not only imperil individual patients but also compromise Ghana’s progress in combating these epidemics.

Moreover, Ghana’s recent commitment of US$2 million to the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment underscores our dedication to global health initiatives. Yet, the delay in clearing vital medications presents a disconcerting dissonance between our professed commitment and actionable steps. This disjunction risks undermining partnerships and tarnishing Ghana’s international reputation in the battle against these diseases.

The PSGH implores the government to take immediate and decisive measures to expedite the clearance of these life-saving drugs. The PSGH is also aware that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is to refund an ineligible expenses of  $844,046 to the Global Fund or risk losing $1.6 million, which will be deducted from  the current grant cycle (GC7) to Ghana. This will undoubtedly affect the health of Ghanaians and must be given the needed attention.

As good storage practices are essential in the supply chain of health commodities, in the interim the PSGH requests that the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) inspects the commodities and ensure that the conditions under which the products are being stored are not detrimental. We also request quarantine of the products upon clearance and a full assay or quality control assessment by the FDA before the products are made available to patients. As friends of the human race, we make the patients interest the foremost issue with respect to safety and quality.

We stand poised to collaborate with the MOH and other stakeholders in devising swift solutions to ensure unfettered access to essential health commodities.

Looking ahead, the PSGH acknowledges the imperative of securing sustainable funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria programs. As global priorities evolve, we urge domestic dialogues on financing mechanisms to safeguard these vital initiatives. Through concerted endeavours, we can guarantee equitable access to medications and other health commodities, enabling all Ghanaians to lead healthy and productive lives.

In conclusion, as pharmacists and health professionals with expertise in medicines use and other health commodities, we stand with our patients who have health challenges with HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria as well as all Ghanaians in a time like this.

Thank you.

Pharm. Dr. Samuel Kow Donkoh,
Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH)

0208-162909, 0244-858245, 0544-341080, 055-0751292