Photo credit: Belynda Amankwa.

In light of recent public health reforms aimed at achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in Ghana, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has embarked on the process of revising the second edition of the National Medicines Policy (2004). A Technical Working Group (TWG), comprising experts from a range of government agencies, academic institutions and the pharmaceutical industry, was established by MOH with the mandate to review and update the National Medicines Policy.

The TWG has now developed the third edition of the National Medicines Policy (NMP, 2015), which expresses the commitment of the Government of Ghana towards “the goal of ensuring universal access to affordable essential medicines of assured quality to all people of Ghana”. The NMP seeks to provide direction and guidance for all stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector in Ghana, and encompasses broad policy objectives for evidence-based decision-making on issues of medicines selection, access and pricing; as well as national health insurance coverage, pharmacovigilance capacity and cost-effective procurement and distribution of medicines. New components of the NMP include health technology assessment, good governance, risk management and transparency and accountability.

To support effective planning, coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the NMP, the TWG, through the MOH, requested the ADP for technical support to develop an implementation plan. The NMP implementation plan will provide the MOH with a concrete framework to prioritize key activities and allocation of resources, by elaborating the governance structures, strategies and mechanisms for each of the 16 policy objectives of the NMP. The implementation plan will also be a useful advocacy tool for mobilizing resources. The ADP also provided technical support to the TWG for the development of a monitoring and evaluation plan to track implementation progress and results of the NMP.

A national multi-stakeholder consultation was convened by the TWG, with support from the ADP, to facilitate discussion and inputs from key stakeholders on the draft implementation and M&E plans. The consultation meeting was held in Accra on 29-30 September 2015.

In addition to representatives from the MOH, the meeting also included representatives from a range of health and non-health agencies, such as the ministries of trade and industry, finance, environment, and science, technology and innovation; National Health Insurance Agency; Food and Drug Authority; National Drugs Programme, NGOs, the private sector and WHO.

The inclusion of a broad range of stakeholders is in line with the ADP’s strategic approach of strengthening integrated policy making and coherence across multiple sectors for better access and delivery of health technologies.

The consultation meeting provided stakeholders with an effective platform for focused discussions around the prioritization of resources and on the design and relevance of proposed activities and outputs, indicators of success and implementation timeframe. Participants also provided inputs on operational management of the NMP.

The TWG is now in the process of finalizing the implementation and M&E plans, both of which are expected to be completed in early 2016 in time for the proposed launch of the NMP.

Once launched, it is hoped that the NMP will bring Ghana one step closer to its vision of attaining health for all.

Belynda Amankwa is Programme Specialist at the UNDP Country Office in Ghana.