The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has presented the first phase findings on the Implementation Research (IR) to identify factors contributing to the low uptake of the Med Safety App.
The Med Safety App is a mobile application that can be downloaded free of charge from Google Play and the App Store for Android and iOS devices, respectively.
The FDA launched the Med Safety Mobile App in 2019 to, among other things, make it easier for patients, consumers and healthcare professionals to report adverse reactions (side effects) of medicines, vaccines, and other medicinal products to the Authority.
It also provides users with safety information and allows them to create their own watch list to receive personalised product-specific news.
The current study is under the FDA's Work Package Four of the Sustainable Access and Delivery of New Vaccines in Ghana (SAVING) Consortium, to build the capacity of multiple stakeholders to identify and address implementation challenges for effective delivery and uptake of new medical interventions.
At a meeting to disseminate the findings with stakeholders, Dr Delese Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, reiterated the Authority's commitment to ensuring the safety of efficacy of medicines on the Ghanaian market.
The meeting was to identify key interventions for incorporation into the second phase of the IRto improve the usage of the App.
In a speech read on her behalf, Dr Darko expressed gratitude to the SAVING Consortium in building the capacities of not just the FDA staff, but multiple stakeholders in identifying and addressing the implementation challenges and their invaluable contributions towards the utilisation of the App.
She indicated that the meeting was not just about sharing results; but also, to chart innovative ways forward that would enhance the utility of the Med Safety App and potentially transform medication safety in Ghana and globally.
Presenting the findings of the study, which was conducted using a mixed approach, Mrs Adela Ashie of the Safety Monitoring Department of the FDA, said among the key bottlenecks identified in the use of the App were: poor user friendliness, log-in and internet challenges, and the lack of provision of reminders or notifications when feedback and news items were posted.
She said the results showed that there was a statistically significant association between the use of the App and participants' age, employment status, religion, healthcare professional status and current access to the internet.
Although the FDA had estimated to receive at least 20 per cent of reporting on adverse drug reactions by 2022 it is currently receiving only about seven per cent.
Participants at the meeting deliberated on strategies to address the bottlenecks identified in the first phase of the study.
They recommended an update of the App to be user friendly, improving log-in process, public education and awareness on its existence, provision of frequent update, feedback and pop-ups and ensuring the use of simple language to make it reader friendly.
Professor David Ofori-Adjei, a Physician, and medical researcher, who chaired the meetingemphasised the importance of stakeholder engagements and assured participants that their recommendations would go a long way to improve the use of the App.
Participants included healthcare professionals, patient groups, regulatory authorities such as South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory AgencyUK
Others were the United Nations Development Programme, World Health Organisation, Access and Delivery Programme, the media and AUDA NEPAD's African Union Smart Safety Surveillance programme.
The SAVING Consortium project builds on the framework of the Access and Delivery Partnership value chain and stresses on the importance of an efficient regulatory control systems using IR.
This will help build technical and research capacities in its partner institutions, namely the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ministry of Health and the FDA.