In this era of the fourth industrial revolution, Ghana must take advantage of the $11.5 trillion global digital economy, representing 15.5 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) to spur growth and job creation, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has said.
He said the global e-pharmacy market was worth $52 billion and expected to grow at an annual compound rate of 19.5 per cent from 2022 to 2030 and believed that leveraging digital technology would enhance economic growth.
The e-pharmacy platform was developed by the Pharmacy Council of Ghana, in collaboration with other health regulatory agencies.
It ensures unlimited access to online pharmacies and pharmacists by subscribers for medicine purchases or enquiries, and courier service to deliver medications within a limited time frame to individuals who make requests.
The backbone interconnectivity platform creates a web of relationships among several stakeholders including consumers, pharmacies, pharmacists, doctors and regulatory authorities.
“You must all remember that you cannot transform an economy with brick and mortar. You can only transform an economy with ideas, systems and institutions,” Dr Bawumia added.
He said the platform would be integrated into another health ecosystem in the country to ensure safe, secure and transparent dispensing of medicines and pharmaceutical services.
The NEPP had also been linked to the Food and Drugs Authority’s database to authenticate medicines requested by applicants to promote confidentiality and public safety.
Dr Bawumia lauded the Pharmacy Council of Ghana, Governing Board of the Council, and all stakeholders involved in the noble initiative for the yeoman’s job and called for an effective monitoring mechanism to avoid any potential abuse.
“The NEPP will help monitor the activities of unlicensed online pharmacies, improve the pharmacist-patient ratio and facilitate pharmaceutical service delivery,” he said.
“This I believe will, among other things, address four key concerns in the provision of pharmacy services; reduction in the sale of unlicensed medicines, ensuring the confidentiality of health information, privacy of patients’ medical records, and minimizing counterfeit and sub-standard medication in the country,” Dr Bawumia stated.
The idea of having an integrated electronic pharmacy platform for the regulation and availability of medication online is a developing conversation in many countries.
Beyond the immediate need to improve public safety and patient access to pharmaceutical services, there is also an economic benefit that is yet to be tapped.
“ The Government finds this platform not only important in linking patients to the approved licensed pharmacies, registered pharmacists, and critical pharmaceutical services, but also a critical innovation in safeguarding the future of our youth, providing avenues for job creation, and digital start-up business innovations and economic growth,” the Vice President said.
He gave the assurance that the Government was committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the highest standards in the practice of pharmacy by ensuring that pharmaceutical service providers had the right qualification, practised in accordance with set standards, and we’re accessible to the whole population.
“Our interest as a government in digitalization stems from the fact in the fourth industrial revolution that the future is digital,” Dr Bawumia said.
“Digitalization helps us to reduce bureaucracy and corruption in the delivery of public services, increase efficiency, reduces the cost of doing business, and makes life easier for citizens.”
“This is a great day for Ghana and we should all be justifiably very proud. It has taken a lot of hard work by everyone involved.”
Ghana is the first country in Africa and one of only a few in the world to launch a national-scale electronic pharmacy platform with all licenced pharmacies required to be a part of it and linked to the FDA.
Mrs Doris Fosu-Hemaa Addae-Afoakwa, the Chairperson, Governing Board of the Ghana Pharmacy Council, who chaired the event, said the NEPP would ensure affordable and competitive pricing for medications and provide an alternative drug administration in Ghana.
Interested persons could log on to: www.gnepplatform.com to register to purchase authorised medicines, make enquiries or seek pharmaceutical services.