The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana has grown over the years since its establishment in 1935.  Various administrations have contributed their quota to bring us where we are today.  We still have some way to go to get us to the place we all desire to be.  In getting here, we have taken a number of major steps.  Some of these steps have resulted in visible results of which we can all be proud.  Others, however, are yet to yield the results we all so much desire.

Having been a member of the Standing Executive Committee (SEC) of the PSGH since August 2017, I have seen up close some of the efforts we have put in place.  I have seen what has worked, what still needs some work and what has not worked.  These experiences place me in particularly good stead to be able to build on the successes chalked so far and alter direction where necessary to get us closer to where we desire to be.

The Past Four Years

In trying to attain our dreams as a profession, we launched and adopted a 10-year Strategic Plan to focus and guide the activities of the Society.  A number of the strategies outlined in the Strategic Plan have been implemented and others are at various stages of implementation.  The Strategic Plan is a dynamic document and some issues which have arisen over the period, including COVID, will require leadership to respond and adapt to these changes not envisaged in the Strategic Plan.  As a member of the Strategic Planning Team, I have seen the issues which are at various stages of implementation, and I have also noted some issues which will require update.

Over the last four years, the Standing Executive Committee led by President Benjamin Botwe has implemented a number of strategies on behalf of the Society:

1. Ghana as a Pharmaceutical Hub.

PSGH organized an international symposium and brought focus on the capabilities of the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in Ghana. During the pandemic the awareness created was leveraged upon, bringing the pharmaceutical manufacturing companies opportunities to repurpose production lines and expand their services.  There are now talks of vaccine production in Ghana.  And, in this regard, the Society has requested government to use its muscle to obtain patent waivers and facilitate contract manufacturing status for these manufacturing companies.

PSGH has visited a number of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies and held discussions with the management of these institutions.  These discussions have been focused on how the Society can best support these companies through advocacy as they strive to become GMP compliant and increase their production to meet the pharmaceutical needs of the country and the sub region.

2. Conditions of Service for GHOSPA

PSGH continued to utilize the services of the consultant engaged before 2017 to facilitate discussions on the CoS of GHOSPA. These conditions have now been accepted and are in use for the benefit of all GHOSPA members.  As we speak, all allowances due GHOSPA members are paid directly through the Controller and Accountant General as is the case for other healthcare workers employed by government.  This emphasizes the need for reassessment and continuation as the case may be to ensure success in our forward march.

3. AREPI membership in IFPMA.

PSGH facilitated the admission of AREPI as a member of IFPMA.

4. Extension of Services.

PSGH has undertaken extensive advocacy on expanding the services provided by pharmacists.  Currently an over 80 pharmacists are undergoing training as Pharmacist Vaccinators.  We have obtained an approval letter from the Ministry of Health and GHS recognizing the training of Pharmacist Vaccinators and the inclusion of these vaccinators into vaccination teams in all districts across the country.

5. PSGH Fund.

The fund to secure the financial future of pharmacists and other related persons has been established.  Every member of the PSGH is a member of the Fund with an initial deposit made on his or her behalf.  Each pharmacist needs to activate their membership by completing some forms and making deposits.

6. COVID-19 Response.

The PSGH raised funds and contributed to the national effort.  Also, critically needed PPEs were distributed to 8 treatment centers and pharmacists in facilities across the country.

7. Pharmacy Centre Project.

We have held extensive discussions with potential funders for the project.  Although COVID-19 dampened enthusiasm among these potential financiers, discussions have resumed in earnest with the aim of getting the project off the ground in the shortest possible time.

8. Model Pharmacy.

Taking concerns of pharmacists on board, the concept has been revised to ensure that PSGH does not come into competition with members.  Discussions have been held with potential sponsors of start-ups in areas with little or no access to pharmaceutical services with the view to establish the first facilities in the next several months.  This is an opportunity being created for young Pharmacists to establish their own community pharmacies and make pharmacy visible and accessible and to aid advocacy for the separation of services under the NHIS.

9. Endowment Fund for the Ghana College of Pharmacists.

The Endowment Fund has been established and is set to provide support for the College in executing its mandate of training of specialist and consultant Pharmacists to enhance pharmaceutical service delivery in the country.

10. Collaboration with CalBank and UBA.

These collaborations have resulted in some members of the Society getting access to bank facilities at very competitive interest rates to finance various projects.

11. NBSSI COVID Relief Fund.

PSGH facilitated access of some pharmaceutical institutions to the Relief Fund which helped them to restock or otherwise mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses.

12. PSGH ID Cards.

PSGH ID cards have been printed for all members who have put in the request.  This is to ensure the recognition of all members from the public and all other stakeholders.

13. Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS).

The PSGH facilitated the take-off of this international collaboration.  The project has now been extended with several facilities and practitioners benefitting from the project.

14.International Relations.

Stronger ties have been developed with International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and the African Pharmaceutical Forum (APF).  During the FIP African conference on vaccination, Ghana was the show piece from the West African sub-region.  The participation of Ghana in APF has gained greater prominence than before, building from the international conference onto the recognition of Ghana as a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in the sub-region.

15. Collaboration with international pharmaceutical organizations.

PSGH has collaborated with A-Z in the PUMUA initiative resulting in the establishment of nebulizing centers in community pharmacies.  We have, together with the Ghana College of Pharmacists, collaborated with Novartis and are in the final stages of establishing a Value Chain Academy.

16. Inauguration of the Young Pharmacists Group.

The YPG of PSGH has been inaugurated to facilitate activities for young pharmacists in the country.  The Group is also a focal point for collating and responding to issues that are of particular interest to young pharmacists.

Although I have been actively involved in all of these, I have led and successfully managed or implemented the following:

  • Extension of services
  • Training of pharmacist vaccinators
  • Commonwealth Partnership for Antimicrobial Stewardship
  • Endowment Fund for the Ghana College of Pharmacists
  • COVID-19 response
  • Inauguration of the YPG and support for YPG activities

Current Concerns

In preparing for this campaign, it became clear that there is a need, not only to show Pharmacists what has been done so far, but also to hear from Pharmacists.  In order to hear from Pharmacists, a survey was sent out to find out, among other things, how they see the Society and what they think should be done to get us where we want to be.

The following are some of the results from the survey:

  • Respondents

    • 66% male, 34% female
    • 21% 25-34; 48% 35-44, 17% 45-54; (14% below 25 and above 55)
  • Aspirations

    • Future financial security – 22%
    • Profitable pharmacy ownership – 20%
    • Opportunity for business/entrepreneurship – 18%
    • Job availability – 14%
    • Qualification progression/professional development – 13%
    • Career progression – 13%
  • Collective professional outlook

    • More recognition in the healthcare setup – 59%
    • Financial resourcefulness – 21%
    • Media visibility and reach; access to international pharmacists fora; leadership – membership engagements – 20%
  • Nation building

    • Widening pharmacists’ specialist practice for better patient outcomes – 60%
    • Public perception of pharmacists – 16%
    • Representation in Governance e.g., service in high level national agencies – 14%
    • Visibility in national discourse; regulation – 10%

Looking Into the Future

The plan for the next 2 years.

In the next two years there are some key activities we will implement as a Society in addition to continuing the work which has gone on. My Action Plan for the next two years includes the following:

Patient-centered service delivery (CPPA/GHOSPA)

  1. Vaccination Training for Pharmacists. Expand vaccination training to include pharmacists who are willing and able to provide the requisite services.
  2. Expansion of Services. Undertake advocacy on expansion of services to move towards remuneration of agreed services by the NHIS.
  3. Patient Safety and Direct Patient Care. Improve advocacy to ensure the intervention of the pharmacist in direct patient care and promotion of patient safety.
  4. Continuum of care. Explore linking community pharmacies with hospitals to facilitate ensure continuum of care.

Manufacturing (IPA/AREPI)

  1. Ghana as a Pharmaceutical Hub. We will continue with the advocacy and engagements towards the full realization of Ghana as the pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in the sub-region.
  2. Attainment of GMP Status. Enhance the interaction with and advocacy for existing manufacturers to attain GMP status.
  3. Skills and knowledge transfer. Facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills from international pharmaceutical companies to local pharmaceutical companies.

Training and capacity building (ASRPA)

  1. CPDs. Facilitate the development and implementation of CPD programmes that meet the current changing needs for the effective delivery of pharmaceutical service and practice.
  2. PharmD. Institute and facilitate discussions aimed at ensuring industry readiness of graduates for all practice areas.

PSGH Secretariat

  1. Pharmacy Centre Project. Undertake further discussions to get a value for money agreement that gets us the Pharmacy Centre.
  2. Strategic Plan. Reevaluation and reassessment of strategic plan to meet current needs of pharmacists and refocus priorities.
  3. International Relations. Improve on international relations to lift the face of the profession even higher.
  4. Governance Teams. Establishment of governance teams at the practice group level for the continued and effective implementation of the strategic plan.
  5. Business Unit. Work towards strengthening the business unit for the PSGH.

Underpinning strategies

  1. Effective Communication.
    1. Continue monthly bulletins.
    2. Brief and bite-size communication to encourage uptake by all pharmacists
    3. Request feedback from Pharmacists.
    4. Conduct regular surveys aimed at always incorporating identified needs of Pharmacists into policy implementation.
    5. Regular online townhall meetings.
  2. Adaptive Response. A readiness to assess and respond to the needs of the Society and its members as and when the issues arise.

What I bring on board

  1. Proven track record of leadership of associations and groups.
  2. Project management and coordination. I have extensive experience in project development, management and coordination.  This has resulted in the implementation and execution of several projects I have been involved in as a lawyer, a private consultant, as Secretary of PSGH Greater Accra, as Vice Chair of CPPA, as LAPAG Chair, as Vice President of PSGH and as Rector of the Ghana College of Pharmacists.
  3. Team builder. In order to execute my assignments in my various past and present capacities, I have had to build and train teams to implement projects effectively.  In these assignments, I have had to undertake constant review of schedules and tasks to fit the strengths and abilities of team members.
  4. Team player. My various past and present roles have involved being an effective team player to ensure the execution of assignments.
  5. Effective communicator. I have strong communication skills which I keep improving upon to ensure that I am able to communicate with all categories of persons and professionals I work with and relate to.  Some of these skills have been developed and honed from my role as lead oralist for Ghana in International Moot Court competitions and presenter of scientific papers in local and international conferences.  Some of these conferences include those organized by International Society of Pharmacovigilance, Water Engineering and Development Centre, Tropical Health and Education Trust and Commonwealth Pharmacists Association among others.