Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vice President decries lack of equity in healthcare

Vice President John Mahama on Wednesday decried the lack of social justice and equity in Ghana's healthcare system, describing the situation as unacceptable. He said lack of social justice and equity in the health sector remained a major development drawback, pointing to the concentration of health professionals in few urban centres to the neglect of a number of communities."This situation lacks equity and is unacceptable. Depending on what geographical part of the country you are, access and quality can vary dramatically".The Vice President was addressing a joint meeting of the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association (CPA) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) in Accra on Wednesday. It was on the theme: "Managing Threats and Crises: The Vital Role of Pharmacy in An Unstable World." Vice President Mahama said there was huge disparity in the distribution of health professionals explaining that 80 per cent of 1, 400 pharmacists in the country were located in Accra or Kumasi, while the three northern regions have less than five per cent of pharmacists and pharmacies.He said while in the Greater Accra Region, an estimated health professional ratio was one to 8,000 patients; the figure was dramatic in the North where one health professional accounted for 96,000 patients. "This is woefully inadequate and renders the population vulnerable. to the activities and schemes of untrained health professionals, thereby denying them of the excellent services that the pharmaceutical profession provides."He said the absence of pharmacists in these communities raised a number of concerns including the sustainability of the health insurance scheme and the provision of cost effective medications for various therapeutic reasons.Vice President Mahama appealed to the two pharmaceutical bodies to be alarmed about the influx of fake or counterfeit drugs to the developing world and team up with the government to solve the menace. He said while the problem was still within a manageable proportion in Ghana, government was concerned about the phenomenon and was willing to partner progressive institutions to eradicate the criminal activity. The Vice President assured pharmacists, especially those involved in the manufacturing of drugs, of the continued protection of their investments to "ensure that Ghana becomes a centre of excellence in drug discovery, research and an active hub of pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa".The Deputy Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Anarfi Asamoah Baah, corroborated the Vice President's observation about the concentration of pharmacists in a few city centres and advocated a paradigm shift.He noted that the greatest health challenge facing the world is the scourge of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and cancers. Both Dr Alex Dodoo, President of the PSGH and Mr Ivan Kotze, President of the CPA, promised to bring their expertise to bear on the healthcare sector.

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