On Monday, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice President, officially unveiled the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform (NEPP) in Accra.
The national ePharmacy, the first national-scale ePharmacy platform in Africa, is a digital convergence of authorized pharmacies throughout the nation. It will allow Ghanaians to have access to prescribed medications and buy by placing an order with a mobile phone through the ePharmacy app, website, or shortcode, and have the medicine delivered to a desired location.
Vice President Bawumia, who also supported the implementation of the NEPP through his office and challenged the Pharmacy Council to go digital in 2019, launched the NEEP. He expressed his joy at the project’s successful completion and the enormous benefits it will bring to Ghanaians in the delivery of healthcare.
“I recall with fondness that in 2019, in line with the government’s digitalization drive, I challenged the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to take steps in ensuring that Pharmacy services are digitized to ensure prudent regulation of the services provided in the dispensing of medications and other services,” Dr. Bawumia said.
“Today’s event is historic for the reason that, for the first time in our nation, we are going to deploy a National Electronic Pharmacy Platform which will enable over 30 million Ghanaians to have access to prescribed medicines in a more convenient, cost-effective and quality assured manner, scaling over counterfeit and inferior medicines.”
The ePharmacy platform is configured so that each drug request made through the system is overseen by a group of qualified and licensed pharmacists, who, after verifying the drug’s availability and legality, dispense it to the patient in a reliable manner.
Dr. Bawumia pointed out that this will not only make medications freely available and encourage competitive pricing, but it will also aid in lowering the sale of illegal drugs.
“Most often, people are faced with the difficulty of driving quite a distance just to find cost-efficient and reliable pharmacies to purchase medications. The situation most times has led to Pharmacy operators preying on the vulnerability of patients to inflate prices or offer fake substitutes for the medication sought,” the Vice President noted.
“Buying online is easy and convenient. But if you consider buying medicines online, you need to be cautious. Unfortunately, many online shops and Internet platforms sell medicines illegally. If you buy illegal medicines physically or online, at best you risk spending money on something that might have no effect, at worst the medicine has serious side effects or puts your life at risk and may result in even death.”
“The introduction of the National ePharmacy Platform for short NEPP is meant to safely and securely make available medicines, reduce the burden of cost and save time.”
Dr. Bawumia noted that by connecting the ePharmacy platform to regulatory organizations like the Food and Drugs Authority, it will be simpler to authenticate medications and address other issues with medication delivery.
“I am particularly impressed that for medication safety, this has been connected to the Food and Drugs Authority database making it easy to authenticate those medicines being sold online are approved for sale in Ghana.”
“The easy access of narcotic and dangerous medicines will be greatly reduced through the effective control of these types of medicines through NEPP.
“This, I believe will among other things address four key concerns in the provision of pharmacy services; reduction in the sale of unlicensed medicines, ensuring confidentiality of health information, privacy of patients’ medical records, and minimizing counterfeit and sub-standard medication in the country.”
The Vice President, who has led Ghana’s drive toward digitalization in many sectors, emphasized the importance of include ePharmacy among the nation’s other digital services and its potential economic benefits for both the pharmaceutical sector and the Ghanaian economy.
“The world today is moving at a pace never imagined before. Even for those who predicted that technology will disrupt the way goods and services move around, they did not envisage it will accelerate this quickly. In this short period, we have witnessed the digital technological transformation in education, retail commerce, building and construction, and more recently in healthcare, since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.”
“In the area of health, the conversation of contactless pharmaceutical service dispensing, has seen ePharmacy emerge as a promising sector in offering convenience in pharmacy services for all, irrespective of location.”
“The global ePharmacy market size in 2021 was valued at USD52.0 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.5% from 2022 to 2030. According to experts, this is due to rising penetration of the internet across the globe, increasing number of tech-savvy consumers, and rising consumer preference for online purchases with a heightened focus on convenience as key factors boosting the market growth.
“With the National Electronic Pharmacy Platform, Ghana will be part of this new pharmaceutical digital economy to boost pharmaceutical sales and generate revenue that can be channeled into research and other medical developments.”
“The increasing adoption of digital technologies and e-commerce especially in the healthcare sector is anticipated to propel overall growth. It is why government finds this platform not only important in linking patients to the approved licensed Pharmacies, registered pharmacists, and critical pharmaceutical services but also a critical innovation in safeguarding the future of our youth, providing avenues for job creation, and digital startup business innovations and economic growth,”
The Vice President applauded the Pharmacy Council and all parties engaged in making sure “this great effort” got off the ground.
Deputy Minister of Health Mahama Asei Seini, Registrar of the Pharmacy Council Dr. Audu Rauf, and President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana were all present at the event.
Samuel Kow, Pharmacy Department Chair.