Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia addressing members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana at the KAMA Conference Centre yesterday
Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia addressing members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana at the KAMA Conference Centre yesterday
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Dr Bawumia advocates local capacity building in health sector

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has stressed the need to build local capacity in the health sector.

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That, he said, was because the country could not continue to depend on other countries for health support.

Dr Bawumia, who was interacting with members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana in Accra yesterday, said experiences gathered during the acquisition of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic had necessitated the planning for the worst-case scenarios.

“We saw the vaccine nationalism that resulted when we had COVID-19. We heard that there were available vaccines but we were being told that for the developing countries, we should go to India.

“India also had major constraints because everyone was protecting their population and that was a big lesson,” he explained.

COVID-19 lessons

Dr Bawumia, who is also the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), said the COVID-19 lessons were enough to inform the country that anything could happen and supply chains could be disrupted very easily.

He said Ghana had a comparative advantage in the pharmaceutical sector in the whole sub-region, adding that, “If we want to be the pharmaceutical hub which I want us to be, then we have to put our money where our mouth is to support local manufacturing.”

Without that support, he said, “We are not going to make it.” “The good thing about the pharmaceutical industry is that the demand for the product is there so funding it will not let us lose money and I think the gains will be huge,” Dr Bawumia pointed out.

Members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana at the KAMA Conference Centre yesterday

Members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana at the KAMA Conference Centre yesterday

Explaining further, he said there were over 2,140 pharmacies which had signed on to the E-Pharmacy platform, the renewal of the NHIS was working well, one constituency, one ambulance, Agenda 111, and the Zipline drones.

He said there was also the integration of the digitalisation of medical records, indicating that “now we are trying to bring all the hospital pharmacists onto the E-pharmacy platform and that is ongoing.”

The Vice-President said, “When we were looking at global systems, we were looking at least cost areas of production, which if you rely on them, could be the highest cost for you when it becomes critical because they will not be available.”

Questions

Responding to questions from the pharmacists, Dr Bawumia agreed to a proposal to make community pharmacies community health centres and said it must be embraced. He also assured the pharmacists that with the level of digitisation at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), coupled with the Ghana Card, he was hopeful that the abuse of the car waiver schemes for pharmacists, which was abolished, could be stopped.

On scholarships, he said, “We need to redirect scholarships to what our serious needs are.” “We are giving scholarships to all sorts of subjects that we do not have a serious need for, and we need to relook at that matter,” he added, saying, “Pharmacists and the specialisation is a number one skills need. Let us get some more scholarships for the pharmacists and we will get it done.”

Recruitment

The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Dr Samuel Kow Donkor, in his remarks emphasised the need to recruit pharmacists into the public sector. He observed that for the past three years, no pharmacist had been recruited into the public sector but the country awaited about 4,000 pharmacists from seven pharmacy schools in the next four years.

Dr Donkor also appealed to the government to create opportunities for small-scale and industrial pharmaceutical manufacturers by getting a dedicated bank to give them the needed funds.

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