The Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana has blamed the high cost of medication in the country on the inability of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to pay them on time.
Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Anthony Ameka has said that, due to the increasing rates of the Dollar against the Ghana cedi, the Chamber has to increase the prices of medication to make up for the cost of drugs.
Early this week, the Chamber threatened to cut supplies to hospitals over delayed National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) payments; which are negatively affecting companies under its jurisdiction.
Speaking to Citi News, Mr. Ameka indicated that only the early payment of the drugs will tackle the challenges with the cost of medicine and the associated implications on health care delivery.
“For instance, anytime I have my goods arrived in the country, I have 45 days to pay and it takes two to three years for the hospitals to pay. To avoid my company being blacklisted, I go to the bank for a loan and the interest rate is added to the amount. Secondly, assuming as of the time I am importing, the interest rate goes up, who pays for the exchange rate loss if the hospitals take more than a year to pay. If the NHIA is able to pay all these monies quickly, these costs can be avoided and that can also bring the cost of medicine down.”
We’ll cut supplies
The Chamber served notice that its members will no longer provide medicines to hospitals that have delayed in paying for drugs offered, for more than three months.
This, it said, is to forestall any potential repercussions on the companies under the Chamber, from the delayed reimbursement by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) through the Health Service Providers.
In a statement to announce the decision, the Chamber added that it will request payment guarantees before supplying any more medicines to hospitals that require their services.
“Chamber Members shall henceforth request the hospitals to provide payment guarantee before medicines could be supplied to them. This is the only way to sustain our individual companies. Health facilities owing more than three months shall no more enjoy any credit facilities from our members”, the statement read.
Government intervention needed
Meanwhile, the Chamber is pleading with the government to return to the decentralized procurement process through national competitive tenders.
“We call on government as a matter of urgency to ensure adherence to the NHI Act on reimbursements to service providers. The Chamber of Pharmacy, Ghana also wishes to immediately call for the review of the current Ministry of Health framework contract and revert to the decentralized procurement system by the Regional Health Directorates and Teaching hospitals, through national competitive tenders.”
It has, however, expressed its commitment to provide quality and easy access to medicines at affordable prices for effective and improved healthcare delivery.
“The Chamber would like to remind the government and all stakeholders that, we will ensure that good-quality health commodities are available, accessible, and affordable to all people living in Ghana and anchored by a sustainable, reliable, responsive, efficient, and well-coordinated supply chain.”