Thursday, 30 May

$45m pharmaceutical products locked up at port

Health News
Drugs

Health commodities worth $45 million and purchased with Global Fund allocations to the country have been stuck at the port since August 2023 due to the importers’ inability to pay the import duties.

This comes even as the country has run out of some of those commodities which include malaria Rapid Diagnostic Testkits (RDTs), Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs), Antiretrovirals (ARVs) and others.

The amount involved is part of the $234 million the Global Fund allocated to the country to enhance the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria from 2023 to 2025.

The revelation, contained in a statement issued by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) in Accra last Tuesday and signed by its President, Dr Samuel Kow Donkoh, said the delay in clearance was because the Global Fund, as part of its policy, did not finance taxes and levies (at the ports).

“The PSGH understands that there is currently a complete stock-out of malaria RDTs.

While some health facilities do not have stocks of ARVs, there will be a complete stock-out of ARVs in the country by May 2024,” the statement said.

“The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana is deeply troubled by some critical issues bordering on Ghana’s access to health commodities from the Global Fund that can have serious consequences for the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. 

“This deadlock, therefore, imperils the health and well-being of numerous Ghanaians grappling with the debilitating conditions of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.

 Ghana recently commemorated 20 years of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) usage, celebrating significant strides in combating HIV and enhancing patient outcomes,” the statement said.

Appeal

Dr Donkor said the PSGH implored the government to take immediate and decisive measures to expedite the clearance of those life-saving drugs.

He further alleged that the Ministry of Health (MoH) was to refund an ineligible expense of $844,046 to the Global Fund or risk losing $1.6 million, which would be deducted from the current grant cycle (GC7) to the country.

“This will undoubtedly affect the health of Ghanaians and must be given the needed attention,” he said.

Dr Donkor said the country’s recent commitment of $2 million to the Global Fund's Seventh Replenishment underscored the country’s dedication to global health initiatives.

“The current impasse jeopardises these achievements.

Access to timely treatment is imperative, as delays could precipitate health deterioration, heightened viral loads, and the emergence of drug resistance.

 Such setbacks not only imperil individual patients but also compromise Ghana's progress in combating these epidemics,” he said.

“Yet, the delay in clearing vital medications presents a disconcerting dissonance between our professed commitment and actionable steps.

“This disjunction risks undermining partnerships and tarnishing Ghana's international reputation in the battle against these diseases,” he said.

Storage

Dr Donkor said as good storage practices were essential in the supply chain of health commodities, in the interim, the PSGH was requesting that the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) inspect the commodities to ensure that the conditions under which the products were being stored were not detrimental.

He said the society was also requesting the quarantine of the products upon clearance, and a full assay or quality control assessment by the FDA before the products were made available to patients.

“As friends of the human race, we make the patients’ interest the foremost issue concerning to safety and quality.

“We stand poised to collaborate with the MoH and other stakeholders in devising swift solutions to ensure unfettered access to essential health commodities.

“Looking ahead, the PSGH acknowledges the imperative of securing sustainable funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programmes.

As global priorities evolve, we urge domestic dialogues on financing mechanisms to safeguard these vital initiatives.

“Through concerted endeavours, we can guarantee equitable access to medications and other health commodities, enabling all Ghanaians to lead healthy and productive lives.

“As pharmacists and health professionals with expertise in medicines use and other health commodities, we stand with our patients who have health challenges with HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, as well as all Ghanaians in a time like this,” Dr Donkor said.

MoH officials agreed to respond to the issues with the Daily Graphic but did not answer subsequent phone calls from the newspaper more than four hours before press time.

 

 

Source: Graphic.com.gh