The Ministry of Health has developed a system, Ghana Global Standards One (GS1), that will track pharmaceuticals entering the country and also trace them to the supply value chain, including patrons.
It will also help resolve the scourge of substandard and falsified medicines and medical supplies in the health system and on the market.
The GS1 initiative is a global coding standard for products, including healthcare and pharmaceuticals, that provides identification, capturing of data and other mechanisms.
Also referred to as pharmaceutical traceability, the system will allow for product traceability and authentication to ensure regulatory compliance among industry players, including the provision of supply chain efficiencies.
It will further ensure visibility of products from the plant to the patient, promote trust in the pharmaceutical sector and healthcare system, decrease the presence of substandard and falsified (SF) medicines, enable efficiencies across the supply chain and ultimately increase patient safety.
The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who launched the system in Accra, said it formed part of efforts at delivering the core mandate of the ministry — ensure the health and safety of the people.
“The mandate involves the use of quality health commodities. Currently, it is a fact that far fewer innovator medicines are being registered by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), compared to generics.
“This is so due to demotivating factors such as researchers working hard to develop new products only for unsuspecting entities to falsify their production.
“All over the world, a system is being adopted to curb this menace. One of them is the GS1 initiative which seeks to ensure that businesses can share information of identifying their products through the use of appropriate technology,” he said.
The minister called on stakeholders to help the government leverage the initiative to address challenges of data integrity and visibility of pharmaceutical products in a way that would enable healthcare workers to provide safe quality pharmaceutical products and services for clients through an identification and verification system.
The Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, said the system would help the authority rid the country of SF medicines and medical supplies to protect public health and ensure safety.
“It promises to be a valuable tool among other systems being used to fight the menace of falsified medical products. The FDA had, in the past, spent a lot of resources in combating SF medical products on the local market.
“Despite these efforts, the war against those products is still far from over, since the manufacture and trafficking of SF products is a multibillion dollar business,” she said.
Mrs Darko said that was why the introduction of the new system was significant, and expressed the hope that it would deliver the relief the authority had been working at over the years.
“If the system is comprehensively implemented, it will enable the FDA to have enough visibility into what was manufactured and brought onto the local market, with data on all imported products, and also track unwholesome products in the system, including the recall of non-conforming products,” she added.
The Country Representative of the World Health Organisation, Dr Francis Kasolo, commended the Health Ministry for the initiative.