Periodic shortages, high prices and lack of sustainable financing mechanisms are major barriers to access to medicines. Also the quality and safety of medicines are often compromised due to lack of good storage and distributions systems and an effective logistics management procedure.
To ameliorate the situation in the case of our country the Ghana National Drugs Programme was introduced in 1997 as part of a first Five-Year Medium Term Strategic Framework (1997-2001). The aim of the programme was to improve access to essential medicines through a comprehensive master-plan that addresses all issues of management, including the development of a national drug policy and subsequent legislation, procurement and distribution of drugs, financial management of drug revolving funds at various levels and issues concerning rational use of drugs and quality control of drugs. A baseline survey of the pharmaceutical sub-sector was implemented in 1998 to guide introduction of interventions. Although monitoring of the sector was ongoing especially in relation to the rational use of medicines, it became necessary to evaluate the interventions after five years of implementation to establish the current situation as a means of engendering a future strategy for the Drug Programme.
This survey was undertaken in 2002 by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization to determine the status of the Pharmaceutical sector in relation to the management of the drug supply cycle and rational use of medicines. The survey was important because it provided a clear picture of national and institutional problems inherent in the pharmaceutical sector.
The WHO survey package for monitoring and assessing country pharmaceutical situations was used for this exercise. It provides a cost -effective means of determining availability of essential medicines, the safety, efficacy and quality of those medicines and whether they are rationally used. It helps countries to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of their pharmaceutical sector and prioritize areas for intervention. Follow up surveys can be undertaken to assess the impact of interventions and to monitor pharmaceutical trends over time.
This report would serve as a guide to strengthen the pharmaceutical sector and to prioritise strategies. It would assist in defining relevant strategies for technical collaboration and further serve as a guide for advocacy, and Information, Education and Communication about rational use of medicines.