A new mobile application that will help to improve safety of health products in Ghana is being rolled out by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). The Med Safety Mobile App is designed to encourage reporting of harmful, unexpected side effects of health products, including medicines and vaccines, by consumers, patients and health care professionals.
The app also provides users with safety information and allows them to create their own watch list to receive personalized product-specific news. The initiative forms part of the Access and Delivery Partnership (ADP) project being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the WHO, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and PATH.
Currently, adverse reaction reporting of health products is done using a paper-based reporting form and online using a web-based platform- SafetyWatch System.
“The Med Safety App today is our new faster way to report safety issues of medical products to promote patient safety anytime and anywhere because you always have your phone with you,” said Delese Darko, Chief Executive Officer for the Food and Drugs Authority during her opening remarks at the launch of the app.
The Med Safety App is expected to reduce the cost of reporting adverse reactions and improve communication between the FDA and clients. It was developed with support from ADP, the WEB-RADR (Recognising Adverse Drug Reactions) project, the UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency, and the Ministry of Health Ghana.
Honourable Kweku Agyeman Manu, Minister of Health lauded the FDA for its efforts to promote public health and safety, and called on the general public to download the app to ensure safety of medicines.
“We believe the app will make it easier for health care professionals and the general public to report problems with their medicines to the FDA at no extra cost once this is downloaded”, noted Hon. Manu.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rightly put access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all, as a key health target to be achieved by 2030. According to the acting UNDP Resident Representative for Ghana, Ms. Rokya Ye Dieng, implicit in this target, is the need to ensure that viable mechanisms are put in place for adverse drug reactions to be reported promptly to provide the much-needed data to inform policy and enhance patient safety.
“In our ever-changing technologically driven world, it is imperative that we explore quick, easy and innovative ways to encourage the reporting of drug reactions", Ms. Ye Dieng stated.
Stakeholders at the launch of the new app included representatives from Ministry of Health, and the Charge d’Affaires, Hiromoto Oyama, and the Coordinator for Economic Cooperation, Nozomi Azuma, from the Embassy of Japan.
ADP is a global project funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNDP, WHO, TDR and PATH that supports low- and middle-income countries to strengthen and harmonize policies and systems, and build the capacities of key people and institutions to drive the necessary reforms for sustainable universal health coverage.
The Med Safety App initiative is part of efforts by ADP to support the FDA to develop pioneering tools and strengthen capacity for monitoring and responding to safety issues associated with new health technologies.
Specifically, ADP has supported the strengthening of capacity for the effective utilization of the SafetyWatch System – the data management system for Individual Case Safety Reports received from clinical trials and spontaneous reporting from patients, health care professionals and the pharmaceutical industry. Between 2017 and 2019, ADP supported the training of over 1,000 people across Ghana to enhance the reporting of adverse reactions. Trainees included health care providers, institutional contact persons, and regional pharmacovigilance officers.
Moving forward, ADP will continue to work with the FDA to strengthen mechanisms for reporting adverse reactions and ultimately improve the safety of health products in Ghana.
*The Med Safety App is available for download on Google Play and Apple Store.