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Regional News Wed, 7 Jan 2004

Success of health schemes depend on standards

Aburi (E/R), Jan. 7 GNA - Mrs Martha Gyansa-Lutterodt, Acting Programme Manager of Ghana National Drugs Programme, on Wednesday said the effective way to manage any health insurance scheme and ensure its survival depended on the existence of up-to-date standard treatment guidelines (STG).

She said for any health scheme to succeed there was the need for standards, which was one of the most important foundation to avoid abuse and bankruptcy.

Mrs Gyansa-Lutterodt explained that all patients in Ghana would have to get the same standard treatment when they were presented with the same conditions in all parts of the country so as not to be subjected to the whims and caprices of individual practitioners.

She said, when that was done it would ensure that all patients got the same standard treatment when diagnosed with the same health problem. Mrs Gyansa-Lutterodt was speaking at a two-day peer review workshop at Aburi in the Eastern Region, which is being organised by the Ghana National Drugs Programme with funding from the Ministry of Health. It aimed at reviewing the current National Standard Treatment Guidelines and the National Essential Drugs List to ensure effective health delivery.

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She said under the guidelines, treatment recommended to patients would be the most cost effective which would ensure that the prescription of drugs with doubtful or unproven efficacy was stopped.

Mrs Gyansa-Lutterodt noted that the notion portrayed that cheap drugs were ineffective must be discouraged adding that if any drug had proven evidence of being effective yet cheap it ought to be prescribed. She said there were instances where inexpensive drugs had been extremely effective even in life-threatening condition and cited aspirin as an example.

Dr Melville George, World Health Organisation (WHO), Representative in Ghana, said the careful selection of a limited range of essential drugs had resulted in a high quality of care, better management of medicines and ensured cost effective use of health resources. He said the presence of clinical guidelines and lists of essential medicines had been found to have a profound impact on the proper use of medicines in the health system.

Dr George noted that with the ever-changing patterns of diseases and responses to established treatments, the emergence of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and Serious Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and increase in chronic diseases in many parts of the country, there was the need for regular review and updating of clinical guidelines. He said WHO only provided model to guide member states to develop their own specific lists based on their individual disease prevalence, cost effectiveness of medicines and reasons for using them.

Source: GNA
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