NHIA calls for strong partnership with pharmaceutical industry
The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is seeking stronger collaboration with players in the pharmaceutical industry to ensure the delivery of quality and affordable healthcare in the country.
According to NHIA, the cost of medication in the country was high, a development the World Health Organisation (WHO) had expressed concern about.
The authority said to ensure the success of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the increase in the prices of medicines must be addressed in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry.
The Chief Executive officer (CEO) of the NHIA, Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, made the call at the launch of the fifth anniversary of the Pharmaceutical Importers and Wholesalers Association (PIWA) last Tuesday in Accra.
The event, held on the theme “Five Years of Dedicated Pharmaceutical Delivery,” brought together players in the pharmaceutical industry, including local manufactures.
Some activities to mark the fifth anniversary celebration include donating to some institutions, fun games as well as health education for second-cycle institutions.
Rise in cost
Dr Dsane-Selby noted that the prices of imported drugs had skyrocketed over the past few years due to changes in exchange rates and rise in customs duties.
“It is clear that the price of medicines rises faster than inflation in the country by 1.4 per cent, using the global reference. I appeal to the pharmaceutical industry for partnerships to find a way to make the NHIS work because it is the best way for the health of this nation to be guaranteed and for the benefit of Ghanaians,” she said.
She said the rise in the prices of medications was supported by data from the Ministry of Health, which had begun some data analysis and statistical works on the issue.
“The ministry over the last three years has been having consultations with the manufacturers to really see how we can all work together to control the prices of medicines. By controlling the prices, there will be more money left to build more hospitals that Ghanaians are crying for,” Dr Dsane-Selby said.
Cost of capital
In a speech read on his behalf, the Executive Chairman of Tobinco Group of Companies, Mr Amo Tobin, explained that access to capital was difficult in the country, with high interest which did not encourage growth in the industry.
“Most PIWA members are not able to expand as they survive on their small savings and investments only,” he stated.
Mr Tobin added that delays in payment for medicines supplied to the NHIS also affected the prices of medicine in the country.
“Aside all these, we are not immune to the global hike in freight cost which affects our prices and patronage of our goods by the ordinary person. We humbly plead with the government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to support our sector with very soft loans from banks such as the Ghana EXIM Bank so PIWA members do not remain as wholesalers but can transition to big local pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Entrance Pharmaceuticals and Research Centre,” he noted.
Reasons for price hikes
The President of PIWA, Mr William Adum Addo, also explained that the hike in prices of medicines in the country was due to increase in the cost of materials used in the production of pharmaceuticals, import duties and taxes.
“In a way, it is a balancing act to ensure that we have the best quality medicines for patients and our businesses stay afloat. So we try as much as possible to do our best but probably our best may not be enough but in the time of Covid when situations were difficult, PIWA members ensured that the country never ran out of medicines in the country,” he stated.