The Ghana College of Pharmacists has inducted seven more members into the college at its Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference, bringing its membership to 41.
Instituted by the Specialist Health Training and Plant Medicine Research Act, Act 833 of 2011, the college is mandated to, among others, promote specialist training in pharmacy and related disciplines, promote research in pharmaceutical practice and related disciplines and contribute to the formulation of policies on sound health, medicines and public health generally.
Coinciding with its 10th anniversary, the two-day meeting is being held on the theme: “Improving access to quality healthcare services through specialist pharmacist training."
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the conference in Accra yesterday, underscored the critical role of specialist pharmacists in delivering quality healthcare services and universal health coverage.
He said specialist pharmacists provided unique skill sets that were required in all aspects of healthcare delivery.
“The medicines that are used in the management of diseases have to be quality and able to provide the needed results. The prescriber must also have updated information on the medicines being prescribed.
“Although every pharmacist has basic training to provide support and offer some pharmaceutical services, a specialist pharmacist has more professional and practical exposure and is able to guide both prescribers and users on how best to use medications,” he said.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said specialist pharmacists also provided guidance for policymakers and public health practitioners to ensure that the right structures were put in place, and that all medicines, including vaccines, were handled and utilised to provide expected outcomes.
The thematic speaker for the day and Health Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Health, Dr Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt, said access to health services and health technologies, including medicines, was a basic human right, as enshrined in the Constitution of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The astute pharmacist said access also formed one of the major building blocks of an effective healthcare system.
"WHO reports that over half of the global population do not have access to the quality health services they need. The organisation further highlights the need for skilled health workers in the provision of quality, patient-centred care towards the desired ultimate goal of universal health coverage," she said.
Dr Gyansa-Lutterodt said such care was rooted strongly in the communities pharmacists served, focusing not only on managing diseases but more importantly on disease prevention and health promotion to improve the overall quality of life.
She said it was about the health of all people across the age spectrum, as envisaged by Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3).
Role of pharmacists
She said in the area of access to quality health services, pharmacists and the services they provided were key.
"Pharmacies and pharmacists in the communities and hospitals remain the first and often last ports of call for patients needing care and advice on medicines and their appropriate use in society
She said community pharmacists brought pharmaceutical care to the doorstep of community residents and were among the most accessible healthcare practitioners everywhere.
She said research had shown considerable improvement in the management and outcomes of non-communicable diseases when community pharmacists were actively involved in the care team and shared responsibility.
Dr Gyansa-Lutterodt said specialist pharmacists in the community provided medication therapy management, including drug and therapy monitoring, as well as referral services, as needed by the patient.
The President of the Ghana College of Pharmacists, Joseph Kodjo Nsiah Nyoagbe, commended the government’s foresight and efforts in recognising the role of human resource development in socio-economic development by investing in the establishment, resourcing and maintenance of the college and other sister colleges.