By: Ms. Belynda Amankwa, Programme Specialist, UNDP Ghana and Ms. Himani Bhatnagar, Access and Delivery Partnership Intern, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub
The Access and Delivery Partnership (ADP) supports countries and institutions in building capacity for the timely introduction and scale-up of new health technologies. ADP has been working in Ghana for the past five years, collaborating with the Ministry of Health and other strategic partners to strengthen policy coherence, regulatory and safety monitoring systems, and supply chain management. On June 22nd 2018, Ghana’s Ministry of Health (MoH) officially launched the third edition of its National Medicines Policy (NMP), revised after over a decade since its last edition in 2004.
What is the NMP and why is it important?
The NMP is a policy document that provides overarching guidance for the management of pharmaceuticals in Ghana, with the objective of ensuring equitable, sustainable, and universal access to quality, essential medicines and other health technologies for all persons living in Ghana. Key technical components addressed in the NMP include the selection of medicines for the National Essential Medicines List, institutionalization of Health Technology Assessment (HTA), effective pharmaceutical pricing and procurement, quality assurance and safety of pharmaceuticals, promoting local pharmaceutical manufacturing, and maintaining good governance, transparency and accountability of the pharmaceutical sector. A 5-year implementation plan with specific activities, designated roles, and a budget has also been developed towards the achievement of each of the 16 policy objectives. The development of the NMP was led by the MoH, with support from the UNDP and other partners.
Supporting policy development
Since 2014, ADP has partnered with the Technical Working Group (TWG) set up by the MoH to revise the NMP. Key contributions of ADP to the NMP development process have been providing technical assistance and support in finalizing the policy text and producing complementary tools that enable the effective roll out of the policy. These tools include a costed implementation plan that provided a concrete framework of key priorities, responsibilities, and resource-allocation; a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strategy for monitoring progress and results; and an advocacy and communications plan to mobilize resources and raise awareness among stakeholders of the policy goals.
The development process of the NMP has embodied an integrated and multi-sectoral approach. It reflects inputs from a broad range of sectors and disciplines, which were brought together in a series of stakeholder consultations organised by the TWG and supported by the ADP since 2015. During these consultations, health and other non-health governmental agencies, representatives from World Health Organization (WHO), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the private sector, met to deliberate on the formulation of the NMP and key considerations for its successful implementation, including clear delineation of responsibilities, resource prioritization, design and relevance of proposed activities, and the indicators for success.
One such consultation was the high-level round table meeting in 2016, which was opened by Ghana’s former Minister of Health, the Hon. Alex Segbefia. At this meeting, members of the TWG and key stakeholders discussed the roadmap towards the launch and the effective implementation of the NMP.
Finally, in 2018, after several multi stakeholder engagements and consultations, the NMP and its implementation plan were approved by Cabinet.
The launch and next steps
At the launch event for the new edition of the NMP, the guest of honour, H.E. Mrs Samira Bawumia, the Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana, stated in her keynote address that the policy perfectly aligned with the government’s vision of national development through a healthy population. She acknowledged the hard work of the MoH and its partners towards ensuring health security through access to quality medicines, including drugs for key populations such as pregnant women and children. The UNDP Assistant Country Director, Louis Kuukpen highlighted in his remarks the need for active stakeholder engagement and the utilization of the ‘whole of government’ via multi-sectoral approaches for effective implementation of the policy.
The NMP reflects the Government of Ghana’s commitment and action towards enabling universal health coverage for its people, including the poor and vulnerable. The NMP is a significant achievement as it paves the way towards sustainable access to quality, affordable medicines and other health technologies, strengthening existing systems and introducing new evidence-based decision-making strategies. The ADP will continue to work with MoH on addressing the priority areas defined under the NMP. Three key areas have been identified:
1) improving affordability and cost-effectiveness of health technologies through strategic pricing and procurement approaches;
2) ensuring safety, quality and efficacy of health technologies through regulatory control strengthening and pharmacovigilance; and
3) strengthening supply chain management for the effective delivery of health technologies.
Through these priority interventions, ADP hopes to continue supporting the Government of Ghana to improve access to health and contribute to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage in Ghana as well as the Sustainable Development Goal 3, which aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being.