Effective healthcare delivery in the country could face a major setback as about 2,000 pharmacy retail and wholesale outlets in the country risk closure by the Pharmacy Council by the end of the month.
This follows an enforcement of the Pharmacy Council rules on the renewal of operational permits for pharmacies, which bars any pharmacist who is fully employed in a pharmacy outlet to work in another pharmacy shop on part-time basis.
The directive requires all pharmacy owners to renew their operating permits yearly by submitting renewal forms to the Pharmacy Council, endorsed by a pharmacist who accepts to be the Superintendent Pharmacist for that facility for the year in question.
The Pharmacy Owners Association in the country has argued that the acute shortage of pharmacists in the country at the moment does not make the full implementation of the directive feasible, unless broad stakeholder consultations are held on the subject.
Joseph Nyoagbe, Registrar of the Pharmacy Council of Ghana, however, told Weekend Finder that the council is only enforcing an existing law for public good.
“It is not any new directive; it is an existing law we are enforcing as part of our public office work,” he said.
According to the registrar, he has already met with the Pharmacy Owners Association and has addressed all their concerns on the subject.
In the years past, pharmacists were used to employing the services of Superintendent Pharmacist, who, though fully employed, are still eligible to superintend other pharmacy facilities for a fee.
Mr Anthony K. Ameka, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Pharmacy, however, says only 40% of pharmacy owners across the country would be able to meet this strict directive.
The implications are that most pharmacies accredited by the National Health Insurance Authority may not be able to dispense drugs to National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) card holder as many of them would be closed because they may not be able to meet the Pharmacy Council deadline.
He told Weekend Finder that the chamber has received various petitions from the Pharmacy Owners Association requesting for an extension of the renewal date.
In a petition sighted by Weekend Finder, the Chamber of Pharmacy has appealed to the Pharmacy Council, the Minister of Health, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on health, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Pharmacy Council, and the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to intervene in finding an amicable solution to the problem.
“In this era where the pharmacy owners are baffled with numerous regulatory and economic challenges in managing their facilities, a relevant association such as this becomes essential to assist and support pharmacy owners to grow their businesses by serving as a voice that represents their interest in Ghana”.
The chamber has, however, urged the Governing Board of the Pharmacy Council to allow the Pharmacy Owners Association to engage the services of “Locum Pharmacist” to hold the fort whilst working on engaging Superintendent Pharmacists for their pharmacies.