E-DRUG: Collapsing community pharmacy practice in Ghana (4)
I agree with Kofi. The situation in Ghana is not unique to Ghana because
similar practice abounds in the whole of the West African region with Republic
of Guinea being the worst. The issue is very complex and is not even restricted
to licensed wholesalers selling directly to the public and doctors without
qualified personnel dispensing. In most cases, street medicines vendors who can
not even read the name of their wares sell thermolabile substances advertised
under the balzing sun of Africa. It is a sorry state indeed, yet most of these
countries, especially Nigeria and Ghana, make so much noise through their
regulatory agencies that several billion naira (Nigeria's corrency) worth of
counterfeits have been destroyed. There is usually so much fanfare with media
publicity during such destruction activities! One then wanders whether such
actions actually is deterrent or actually promotes or advertises this death
What needs to be done is that the pharmaceutical sector should do a
self-regulation. What do I mean? They should take the bull by the horn.
Afterall, the pharmaceutical wholesalers are supposed to be their members! They
should be able to regulate them. No amount of lamentations will stop this
because money is involved! Pharmacists in West Africa should face reality.
Governments can not do it for us! It is known that self-regulation is more
effective than official regulation backed by legislation. For example, in
Nigeria, Road Transport Workers Union effectively and efficiently controls
their members. These are largely illiterates. If this group can do, and even
the government recognizes that they do and often dialogue with them, then a
professional group should be able to do more.
Let pharma manufacturers and wholesalers play the game according to the rules.
Let the Regulatory agencies do their work professionally and not politically or
with monetary reward at the back of their minds. If we do these, it will
surprise all of us that the problem is self-inflicted.
I say this with all sense of responsibility. I have Chaired several committee
nationally on Drug Distribution in Nigeria, regrettably our major antagonists
have been pharmacists in the Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for
Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Pharmacists' Council of
Nigeria (PCN). On each occasion, we were frustrated!!! If we rid ourselves of
our big enemy, the cankerworm, (aka: CORRUPTION), we shall have a better
terrain to practice our noble profession.
Professor 'Fola Tayo
President, West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists
Retired Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Lagos and
Former Professor of Pharmacology, Ogun State University Medical College.