[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Diocese of Accra is planning to establish pharmacies in some of its parishes to tackle the problem of sub-standard and counterfeit medicines. The multi-billion-dollar global counterfeit drug trade is thriving in Africa, with disastrous consequences. Last year, the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reported that counterfeit anti-malarial tablets claim the lives of more than 122,000 African children under the age of five every year.
In response, the Diocese of Accra has teamed up with the Norwegian NGO Pharmacists Without Borders and the Lady Pharmacists Association of Ghana to launch a scheme to tackle the problem. It will start by providing training for women’s groups on the importance of obtaining good quality medicines.
In the medium and long term it will establish parish pharmacies to ensure that people are able to obtain their medical supplies from accredited and trusted sources; and it will establish chronic care clinics to support people suffering from hypertension, diabetes and other chronic conditions – amongst the leading causes of death amongst Ghanaians.
The Bishop of Accra, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, launched the scheme at Holy Trinity Cathedral last month. He has targeted health improvement and the fight against counterfeit and sub-standard medicines as part of the diocese’s socio-economic and political strategy. The director general of the Ghana Health Service and the chief pharmacist and director of pharmaceutical services of the Ministry of Health were among a number of chiefs, opinion leaders and national policy makers present at the launch.
The bishop believes that collaboration provides a major step in the right direction towards improving healthcare in Ghana, and singled out Professor Alex Dodoo, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Ghana, a fellow-Anglican, for being instrumental in making the campaign a reality.
The principal pharmacist of the Police Hospital in Accra, Ellen Sam, said that the church and the media together had an important role in educating consumers on the safe use of medicines and she warned against the practice of buying drugs from commercial vehicles and lorry stations.
The Diocese of Accra is looking for international partners to support their campaign; and asks interested parties to contact Canon Ebenezer Jones-Okai, the diocesan secretary, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.