On Monday, July 19th, 2022, the Vice President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia formally launched the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform (NEPP) in Accra, Ghana. The former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, a renowned Economist, now leading Ghana’s digitalization agenda is now called Dr. Digitalization.
With the introduction of the NEPP, Ghanaians will have access to prescribed medications and be able to purchase them by placing an order with a mobile phone through an ePharmacy app, a website, or with a shortcode. After successfully placing the order the medication will be delivered to a specified location. This is the first national-scale ePharmacy platform in Africa, and Ghana should be applauded.
The genesis of the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform
It all started after Vice President Bawumia, challenged the Pharmacy Council to go digital in 2019 and supported the implementation of the NEPP through his office, launched the NEPP, and expressed his joy at the project’s successful completion as well as the significant advantages it will bring to Ghanaians in terms of healthcare delivery.
Dr. Bawumia recalls with fondness that in 2019, in line with the government’s digitalization drive, he challenged the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to take steps in ensuring that Pharmacy services are digitized to ensure prudent regulation of the services provided in the dispensing of medications and other services.
Patient-to-Pharmacist ratio facts
On December 22, 2021, Dr. Bawumia stressed that the introduction of this state-of-the-art medical technology (National Electronic Pharmacy Platform) should aid in addressing at least four major issues in the healthcare system:
- Decreasing the pharmacist-to-patient ratio, which is currently five times higher than the ratio advised by the World Health Organization;
- Enhancing the confidentiality and privacy of patient medical records;
- Reducing incorrect self-diagnosis and self-medication; and
- Decreasing fake and substandard medication.
When fully implemented, the National ePharmacy platform will make it possible for the general public to buy authentic medications from recognized pharmacies, Dr. Bawumia said.
It could be recalled that he also said that the worldwide ePharmacy market was then estimated to be worth $81 billion, and by 2027, projected to reach $244 billion. Ghana will participate in this new pharmaceutical digital economy with the help of the national ePharmacy platform. The data from India also suggests that the country’s ePharmacy will probably increase pharmaceutical sales by 100–200 percent. Thus, everyone benefits from it.
Needs of Ghanaians served via a national electronic pharmacy platform
The launch of a national electronic pharmacy platform, which will give over 30 million Ghanaians access to prescription medications in a more accessible, cost-effective, and quality-assured way while displacing subpar and counterfeit drugs, makes today’s event historic.
Checks and balances of the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform
The ePharmacy platform is operationalized in such a way that each drug request made through the system is overseen by a group of qualified and licensed pharmacists, who, based on the medicine’s availability and legality, administer the medication to the patient in a reliable manner. Dr. Bawumia pointed out that this will not only make medications freely available and encourage competitive pricing, but it will also aid in lowering the sale of illegal drugs.
“Most of the time, finding affordable and trustworthy pharmacies to get prescriptions requires folks to go quite a distance. The Vice President highlighted that this situation frequently results in pharmacy owners taking advantage of consumers’ susceptibility to raise prices or provide bogus alternatives to the desired drug.
He warned that online shopping is simple and practical, but we are to exercise caution when ordering medications online. Unfortunately, a lot of websites and online stores sell drugs without a prescription.
If you purchase illegal medications offline or online, you run the risk of spending money on something that may or may not have any effect. In the worst-case scenario, the medication may have fatal side effects or put your life in danger.
“The National ePharmacy Platform, or NEPP for short, was introduced with the intention of making medications available in a safe and secure manner, as well as to save time and money.”Dr. Bawumia
Dr. Bawumia noted that by connecting the ePharmacy platform to regulatory organizations like the Food and Drugs Authority, it will be simpler to authenticate medications and address other issues with medication delivery.
I am very impressed that this has been linked to the Food and Drugs Authority database for pharmaceutical safety, making it simple to verify that the medications being offered online are authorized for sale in Ghana.Dr. Bawumia
The appropriate management of these sorts of medications through NEPP will significantly minimize the ease of access to narcotic and hazardous medications.
Today too, just as he said on December 22, 2021, he said NEPP, he believes, will address four key concerns in the provision of pharmacy services;
- Reduction in the sale of unlicensed medicines,
- Ensuring the confidentiality of health information,
- The privacy of patients’ medical records, and
- Minimization of counterfeit and substandard medication in the country
The Vice President, who has led Ghana’s drive toward digitalization in many sectors, emphasized the importance of including ePharmacy among the nation’s other digital services and its potential economic benefits for both the pharmaceutical sector and the Ghanaian economy.
Dr. Bawumia intimated that today’s world is developing at a speed that has never been seen before. Even those who anticipated that technology would change how products and services are delivered did not anticipate its acceleration at this rate. Since the COVID-19 epidemic hit, we have seen the digital technological revolution in education, retail trade, building and construction, and most recently, healthcare.
The discussion of contactless pharmaceutical service dispensing has seen ePharmacy emerge as a viable industry in providing convenience in pharmacy services for anyone, regardless of location.
The size of the worldwide ePharmacy market was $52.0 billion in 2021, and it is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 19.5 percent from 2022 to 2030, Dr. Bawumia said again. He added that experts claim that this is due to factors such as increasing internet usage around the globe, a rise in tech-savvy consumers, and a rise in the popularity of online shopping with a focus on convenience as major drivers of market expansion.
“Ghana will participate in this new pharmaceutical digital economy through the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform to increase pharmaceutical sales and create income that can be used for research and other medical advancements.”Dr. Bawumia
The overall development is expected to be boosted by the growing use of digital technology and e-commerce, particularly in the healthcare industry. This is why the government views this platform as essential for connecting patients to registered pharmacists, approved licensed pharmacies, and other essential pharmaceutical services, as well as a crucial innovation for securing the future of our children, opening up opportunities for job creation, and fostering economic growth.”
The Vice President applauded the Pharmacy Council and those parties involved in making sure that this great endeavor of a national electronic pharmacy platform was launched.
Mahama Asei Seini, deputy minister of health, Dr. Audu Rauf, president of the pharmaceutical society of Ghana, Samuel Kow, chairperson of the pharmacy council, Mrs. Doris Fosu-Hemaa Addae Afoakwa, and others were in attendance at the event.