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General News of Monday, 20 January 2020


Review national medicines’ policy every 5yrs – Pharm. Botwe

Drugs at display Drugs at display

Senior Pharmacist and immediate past rector of the Ghana College of Pharmacists Benjamin Kwame Botwe has appealed to government to review the policy for the pharmaceutical industry every five years.

This, according to him, will allow the policy to be updated with current trends.

The time span between the second review in 2004 and third review in 2017 was13 years which he says was too long.

Pharmacist Botwe made this proposition at a maiden valedictory lecture held in his honour as the outgoing rector of the college, on Wednesday.

Speaking on the policy, laws and governance of the sector, he said: “the pharmaceutical sector in Ghana is governed by the National Health Policy and this sets out the broad policy objectives for selection, strategic purchasing, quality assurance, use of medicine, global trade in pharmaceuticals, governance and implementation among others.”

“Indeed there have been 3 editions, two of which I was party to, in 1999 and 2004. The 2017 one was only 2 years ago and I don’t have wasn’t into that.”

He went on “but I saw the people who contributed and I read it from afar. It is excellent and it has become a document that other African countries are using as source documents to review their own national medicines policies.”

Pharm. Botwe proposed “my perspective is that the review should not take that long again. Between 2004 and 2017 was too long. 13 years, so much has passed under the bridge and therefore propose that at most within every five years, we need to review our national medicines policy to reflect current trends.”

On medicine legislation, he said, “having had the opportunity to be part of the development of the African Union Model Law for medicines regulation and having supported and continue to support a number of countries to amend existing legislation or develop and enact new ones, I wish to propose that s new law on medicines, health technologies and related products be enacted, guided by the AU Model Law to stand on its own and be visible.”

“After operationalization of a combined Food and Drugs regulation for over 20 years, the time has come for evaluation of challenges, effectiveness and efficiency of both and to begin thinking of the setting up of a separate Food safety Agency and a Medicines and Related Products Control Authority. This among other advantages facilitate the harmonization of medicines control systems in the ECOWAS region and also the continental harmonization. Countries like Tanzania that followed our example in this area have recently reversed and created separate agencies that all being very impactful. That has greatly accelerated the medicines regulatory harmonization process in the East African Community,” he noted.

He further advised “the time is now for a conclusion to be brought to the establishment of the Narcotics Commission. I am aware that the draft bill has been in the offing for far too long and Parliament may need to consider its enactment to modernize our Drug Law Enforcement System to meet current international standards.

Touching on human resource and training in the sector, he insisted that “the current Pharm D program are overtly clinical in nature and would wish that clearer career opportunities are given for other options. I know this process has begun but needs to be accelerated. • The Technical Universities that used to offer dispensing technician courses are proposing to begin Bachelor of Technology programs. My take is that there is no need.”

Pharm. Botwe’s career in the public service has span thirty-three years including National Service at the then GIHOC Pharmaceuticals Company Limited. He then gained full employment in 1988 at Pharmacy Headquarters and the Ghana College of Pharmacists where he is retiring as Rector.