Government, through the Ministry of Health, is engaging various stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry to help reduce the prices of medicines on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) list by some 30 per cent.
The move forms part of measures being instituted by government to ensure the financial sustainability of the scheme and also improve access to the citizenry.
"I am told that through the efforts of the Hon. Minister of Health, various stakeholders in the industry are working on reducing prices of medicines on the National Health Insurance Scheme medicine list by 30 per cent," Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia disclosed.
The Vice-President made this known at the maiden edition of the Ghana Pharma Awards, held at Movenpick Hotel last Friday.
He emphasised that because the market alone cannot ensure that all citizens have access to quality healthcare, government made it a priority to preserve the interests of its citizens by supplementing the market where there are gaps and regulating the market where there is inefficiency or unfairness.
"The ultimate goal of achieving high quality healthcare will require strong partnerships among national and local governments and the private sector. Translating general principles regarding the appropriate role of government into specific actions within a rapidly changing, decentralised delivery system will require the combined efforts of the public and private sectors, of which the pharmaceutical industry plays a strategic role and influence", the Vice-President noted.
As part of measures to increase access to healthcare and essential medicines at affordable prices, the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government has initiated a number of policy measures in the health sector to support the local pharmaceutical industry to strengthen their capacity to produce essential medicines at competitive prices.
In furtherance of these, he mentioned that the 2017 National Budget made provision for the removal of 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on some selected imported medicines that are not locally produced.
Additionally, the government by an Executive Instrument restricted 49 pharmaceutical products for local manufacturing in 2017.
The Vice-President, however, bemoaned the fact that in spite of the numerous contribution of the pharmaceutical society in improving healthcare in the country, many rural communities do not have any means of access to pharmaceutical services.
This development, according to the Vice-President, "impedes the objective of making healthcare delivery easily accessible to all Ghanaians, with ramifications for the attainment of the SDGs."
He, therefore, appealed to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana and all relevant stakeholders to extend pharmaceutical services to the deprived areas or communities in the country.
The Vice-President further urged all the players in the pharmaceutical sector, including the private sector, to pull resources together to turn Ghana into a vibrant pharmaceutical research and development and production hub, not only to support healthcare delivery, but also to provide jobs and its associated benefits to millions in Ghana.
"It is about time we earmarked a zone within a suitable location to be developed into an industrial park exclusively for pharmaceutical industries. This will lead to a generation of modern pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities which would be in most competitive position to meet all current international Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards, including the WHO-Prequalification standards and to produce high quality affordable medicines not only for local consumption, but also for export into the world market," he added.
He said government is currently looking at the Ghana Pharmaceutical Sector Development Strategy document and will consider the proposal to set up a National Bio-equivalence Centre, in collaboration with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and other stakeholders.