President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given an assurance that the government will work actively and speedily to ensure that the pharmaceutical industry takes advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to become the drug manufacturing hub in Africa.
He said the industry held tremendous opportunity and called for coordinated efforts among industry players, financial institutions and the government to position Ghana to take advantage of the great new opportunity that was beckoning.
President Akufo-Addo said this when the leadership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSG) called on him at the Jubilee House last Friday.
“The pharmaceutical society and the pharmaceutical industry are clear growth points for the future of Ghana’s economy, and I think it is my duty to be out there battling for everything that we can do to assist with that growth. There is a great deal that comes from you for the country,” he said.
Some executive members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana during the meeting at the Jubilee House
The meeting was to thank President Akufo-Addo for attending the society’s 83rd annual general meeting (AGM) which took place in Ho and was held virtually.
At the AGM, the society bestowed the title of Honorary Fellow of the PSG on President Akufo-Addo, the highest honour for non-pharmacists.
The PSG, which is a recognised and registered professional association, is also the umbrella body of all pharmacists in the country.
President Akufo-Addo said any move that would make Ghana the hub for the production of generic drugs for the West African and African markets was of great importance to the country, for which reason all steps that needed to be taken to make that possible would be taken.
He said a lot of work had been done by the Secretary-General and the Council of Ministers of AfCFTA to standardise rules of origin and various subsidiary trading arrangements before the market took off in January next year.
The President said stakeholders would consider the extent to which financial institutions could be roped in to help.
“I believe that in the discussion that has to take place now, the role of the banks to be part of this new venture will be underlined and made sure that it happens,” he added.
He said the handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was going to be difficult without the involvement of pharmacists and expressed gratitude, on behalf of the country, to pharmacists for the indefatigable roles they were playing.
The President was excited by the formation of a partnership between the pharmaceutical giant, Roche, and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which had led to the production of a breast cancer drug, Herceptin, which is readily available to Ghanaian women under the NHIS.
“This is a great deal and very excellent,” he said.
The President of the PSG, Dr. Ben Botwe, said the society had proposed to establish a National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Bioequivalence Trials.
The facility, he said, would ensure that Ghana was able to turn research into commerce, provide health services and also support local drug manufacturers to meet international requirements and standards.
According to him, with that in place, pharmaceutical products manufactured in the country could be exported and also purchased by international bodies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Global Fund.
It would as well build the expertise and capacity of pharmacists in the country and make Ghana a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in Africa, he added.
Dr. Botwe said prominent among issues discussed during their last visit to the President was the NHIA’s indebtedness to its members.