Ghana is set to become the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to have a national scale E-Pharmacy and one of only a few countries in the world with a national scale E-pharmacy, the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has disclosed.
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He said this would involve the digitisation of pharmacies across the country and enable consumers to have access to a wider scale of pharmacies in their quest to purchase medicines while giving regulators to confirm the authenticity or otherwise of drugs being purchased.
Speaking on the theme “Transforming an Economy through Digitalisation- the Ghana Story” on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, at the Ashesi University, Berekuso, Vice President Bawumia said the introduction of digitisation in the sale and regulation of drugs formed part of President Akufo-Addo’s vision to make life better and government services more accessible to the ordinary Ghanaian.
“Patients or people generally face difficulties when trying to find medicines in pharmacies. They have no way of knowing which pharmacies have the medicines. They could go to five pharmacies before getting lucky. Sometimes patients are directed to go to specific pharmacies to buy the medicine, denying them any advantage there might be of choosing from a lower-priced shop.
“People also don’t know what the prices of the medicines are at different pharmacies and tend in their time of vulnerability to just buy at the prices offered when they find the drug. It is also difficult to tell whether the medicines are genuine or fake. There is also the problem of drug abuse with prescription medicines like Tramadol.”
He added, “To address these problems, in 2019, I challenged the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to digitize the operations of pharmacies in Ghana. Following this and working with my office, the Pharmacy Council in collaboration with the private sector has completed work on a digital platform for all pharmacies in Ghana and a pilot of 45 pharmacies is currently ongoing.”
Bawumia said, “Basically, the digital E-Pharmacy platform will offer the opportunity to everyone through a mobile phone to upload your prescriptions and find out which pharmacies near you have the medicines. Secondly, you can compare the prices for the same drug offered by different prices so that you can buy from the lowest priced pharmacies.”
Consumers will also be able to order the drug and pay for it on the phone through mobile money or GhQR (Scan and Pay), etc. The medicines are then delivered to the customers at home through a courier service.
He added, “The E-Pharmacy will enable Ghana to address the issue of drug abuse. Those prescribed controlled medicines like Tramadol for example will only be given a one-time CODE sent via SMS (once the prescription is uploaded) to use at the pharmacy. The e-pharmacy platform will also check fake or counterfeit medicines because the platform will be linked to the FDA which will monitor the batch numbers of all products in real-time. Any drug for which the FDA does not have a batch number will be classified as fake.”
The E-Pharmacy is scheduled to be launched before the end of the year, making Ghana the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to have a national scale E-Pharmacy and one of only a few countries in the world with a national scale E-pharmacy.
The lecture, which was attended by members of academia, students, the clergy, chiefs, and other members of the general public, was the latest by Vice President Bawumia, aimed at getting the citizenry, particularly the youth, to have a greater appreciation of the work being done in the digital space, and solicit their views on other areas that may need special attention.