The government of Ghana is continually making steps to make Ghana a sub-regional pharmaceutical hub. The Nana Akufo-Addo-led state is leveraging on India’s expertise to aid its’ ambition of becoming the first pharmaceutical hub in West Africa.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia talked about this recently when he spoke to the Times of Africa, an Indian media outlet in New Nelhi. The vice president expressed confidence that the partnership will strengthen bilateral relations for the mutual good of the two countries.
“We would like to set up similar kinds of medical institutions that are present in India. Our business people will be very well-positioned to have productive engagements in these areas as well as in agriculture, oil and gas,” the Vice President stated further disclosing that Ghana wants to emulate India when it comes to ultramodern pharmaceuticals and medical institutions.
Speaking during the signing of the MOU between between the Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana and Appolonia City for the establishment of a Pharma Village earlier, Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu-Deputy Health Minister stated that the pharmaceutical hub will not only support healthcare delivery but also create job opportunities.
“I urge all players in the pharmaceutical sector, including the private sector, to pool resources together so as to turn Ghana into a vibrant pharmaceutical research and development and production hub – not only to support healthcare delivery but also to provide jobs associated benefits to millions in Ghana,” he said.
He pointed out that these jobs will be offered to the thousands of graduates who are jobless and living below their potential as future leaders, managers and players in the socio-economic systems of Ghana. The minister noted that his ministry and the chamber are implementing policies and programmes that will ensure medicines are available to patients on time and at affordable costs.
“To help increase access to healthcare and essential medicines at affordable prices, government has initiated several policy measures in the health sector to support the local pharmaceutical industry and strengthen its capacity to produce essential medicines at competitive prices,” he said.
Harrison Abutiate, Chairman of the Chamber of Pharmacy-Ghana, expounded that Pharma Village, a 60-acre lot located inside Appolonia City will boost Ghana’s participation and collaboration in foreign commercial transactions.
“The Pharma Village will help reduce the high level of imported medicines, which stands at about 70 per cent of the market share. Establishing this enclave will, therefore, reduce the pressure on foreign exchange, and in addition help employment-creation directly and indirectly,” he said.
The cost of healthcare has been on the rise in Ghana from USD 878K in 2016 to USD 952K in 2017 and the expenditure projection from pharmaceuticals, which was USD 220K 2016 but rose to USD 238K in 2017.
Manufacturing costs, inclusive of the price of the raw materials normally comprise a very small portion of the total cost of medicines, with the larger share often absorbed by research and development (R&D). Owed to this, identical copies of many pharmaceuticals, known as generics, can be produced at very low cost. Indian firms particularly have been able to fill this niche, as Delhi greatly reduced patent protection in 1970, allowing Indian firms to reverse-engineer many medical products.
Global pharmaceutical companies have severally attempted to challenge this process through legal action but the generic manufacturers have won a number of high-profile victories.
Africa as a whole still depends heavily on the importation of pharmaceutical products in spite of the existing local capacity.Imported pharmaceuticals now account for 80% of all pharmaceutical sales on the continent. As a result, the price of medicine has remain affordable to majority of Africans who generally pay for them out-of-pocket. Despite all this, AfDB is convinced that “Africa’s pharmaceutical industry is the fastest growing in the world.”
Featured Image Courtesy: edb.gov.sg