In anticipation of Ghana’s upcoming elections in December, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has taken steps to engage with political parties on issues that affect the pharmaceutical sector as part of advocacy efforts. The PSGH leadership recently met with the country’s major political parties to present proposals for inclusion in their manifestos. The document, titled “Enhancing Pharmaceutical Care Access in Ghana: things to consider for Developmental Planning for the Pharmaceutical Sector in Ghana,” outlines key recommendations aimed at improving access to pharmaceutical care, strengthening local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, building pharmaceutical workforce capacity, and enhancing regulatory frameworks.

Community Pharmacies as Primary Healthcare (PHC) Centers

One of the primary proposals advocates for the formal designation and integration of community pharmacies as primary healthcare centers (PHCs) into the healthcare architecture of the country. PSGH suggests supporting the establishment of community pharmacies in deprived communities to enhance access to PHC.Additionally, the proposal calls for upgrading Over-the-Counter Medicines Shops (OTMCS) into pharmacies and establishing contracts with the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure universal health coverage (UHC) and expanded scope of practice for pharmacists, including independent prescribing.

Recruitment of pharmacists into public health facilities

The PSGH highlighted the need for increased recruitment of pharmacists into public health facilities to provide needed pharmaceutical care. Despite the significant number of pharmacy students graduating annually, and the proven positive impact of pharmaceutical care on patient outcomes, recruitment rates remain low compared to other health professions

Promoting/Supporting local pharmaceutical manufacturing

The document emphasized the importance of promoting local pharmaceutical manufacturing to reduce dependence on imports and enhance public health resilience. PSGH suggested a comprehensive implementation of the Ghana Pharmaceutical Sector Strategic Plan, establishing a National Bioequivalence Center, and supporting pharmaceutical importers with an import substitution strategy. Additionally, the proposal called for assistance for existing Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies to meet international standards and support for small-scale manufacturing of allopathic medicines and herbal products.

Human resource capacity building for Pharma Sector

To address workforce capacity challenges, PSGH proposes government sponsorship for pharmacists’ specialization training in areas such as manufacturing, regulatory affairs, commercial pharmaceutical management, and clinical specialty programs. The aim is to develop expertise in critical areas and position Ghana as a competitive player in medical tourism within Africa.

Positive feedback from political parties

The manifesto committees of the political parties expressed enthusiasm regarding the proposals presented by the PSGH. They acknowledged the significance of the pharmaceutical sector as one of the pillars of nation-building and committed to incorporating key aspects of the proposals into their manifestoes. Assuring that the pharmaceutical sector would be prioritized if and when they assume office, the committees recognized the importance of addressing healthcare accessibility, promoting local manufacturing, enhancing workforce capacity, and strengthening regulatory frameworks to improve healthcare outcomes for all Ghanaian citizens.