Sam Jonah suggests 5 solutions to address pharmaceutical industry challenges in Ghana

Statesman, Sam Esson Jonah, has suggested five ways by which the pharmaceutical industry in Ghana could overcome its challenges and become a driver of economic growth in the country.

According to him, the pharmaceutical industry currently is bedevilled with so many logistical and financing challenges, such that it is unable to live up to its full economic potential.

Speaking at the 2023 Annual Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSG) in Takoradi, on September 6, on the theme ‘Pharmacist for National Development’ he noted that last year the revenue of the global pharmaceutical market was 1 trillion, $482 billion of which Africa only accounts for less than $60 billion.

“With a population of over 1.4 billion currently representing about 17.89% of the global total, Africa accounts for only about 3% of the global pharmaceutical market. Therein lies the opportunity for growth. So what is holding you back?” he said.

He suggested that to solve the challenges facing the industry, there must be a concerted effort to engage the general public, local investors and government to invest in the industry through joint ventures.

“The entrepreneurial and risk-aggressive among you must move decisively to form partnerships with established foreign companies with the purpose of acquiring much-needed technology and liquidity through foreign direct investment,” he said.

He also said pharmaceutical manufacturing companies must revamp manufacturing outfits to get WHO certification.

“Aggressively pursue capacity-building to enable more members of the PSG to obtain WHO certification. This is the surest way to firstly retool and re-establish to meet local demand, and then work to export to the sub-region and beyond,” he said.

Sam Jonah further called for a curriculum overhaul.

“Improve and expand the curriculum at the seven existing schools of pharmacy in Ghana, and use technical experts from industry as resource persons to provide the needed skills and competencies locally.”

On a regional scale, he said pharmaceutical associations ought to engage their African counterparts and ministries to liberalise trade rules and ratify agreements to ease and enhance free trade across the continent.

“Your leadership and your African counterparts and respective sector Ministries must work purposefully with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for liberalization of trade rules and signing and ratification of regional agreements that enhance free trade in Africa. This will inure to the growth of your sector,” he said.

And finally, he called for concerted advocacy, prosecution and enhanced engagement in public affairs to draw attention to the proliferation of substandard drugs on the market.

“Our sub-region currently carries the highest prevalence of dumping of fake and substandard medicine. For every hundred medicines, 18.7 of our people are fake or sub-standard. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that approximately one million people die annually, with nearly half a million being preventable malaria deaths caused by toxic counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Who imports and sells these medicines? Are they pharmacists too?

“The World Customs Organisation reported that nearly $200 billion worth of fake and potentially harmful pharmaceuticals are sold yearly around the world. Hundreds of thousands of children die from the administration of counterfeits or medicines below accepted standards. Are we sacrificing human life for money?

“Are we covering up for murderers? Where is the outrage? Do we truly care about the health of our people? Where are the concerned and courageous Pharmacists among you who will speak up? In dire situations like this and many others in our homeland Ghana, I entreat you as individuals, and as a society to remember: Silence is not an option,” he said.

Source: Cornerlis Kweku Affre

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