The Ministry of Health will, next month, launch a medicine policy to deal with pharmaceutical crime, substance abuse and counterfeit medicine.
The policy will also serve as the guideline and standard for stakeholders in the health sector to address the abuse of drugs, including Tramadol and Codeine.
Addressing stakeholders at a forum in Accra on Monday, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said more measures would be rolled out towards addressing counterfeit, substandard and unregistered medicines in the country.
He said the government was determined and prepared to undertake programmes aimed at eliminating issues that slowed down the country’s development, especially in the health sector.
The two-day forum is being organised by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), in partnership with the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) and the Africa Alliance Partnership (AAP).
It has been designed as a platform for stakeholders in the health sector and relevant institutions to discuss ways of dealing with the abuse of drugs and counterfeit medicine on the Ghanaian market.
Mr Agyeman-Manu described as a national threat the increasing abuse of drugs, particularly Tramadol and Codeine.
The Tramadol oral tablet is a prescription medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is available as a generic drug and has the brand-name drug Ultram. Tramadol tablets come in both immediate-release and extended-release forms.
Codeine is an opiate used to treat pain, as a cough medicine and for diarrhoea. It is typically used to treat mild to moderate degrees of pain.
Most of the youth have been caught recently abusing the two drugs, with some mixing Tramadol and Codeine to get a stronger effect.
Touching on the effects of drug abuse, the minister said apart from having a negative effect on the individual, it also had a ripple effect on the nation.
He mentioned the loss of revenue and productivity, child exploitation and upsurge in kidney problems as some of the problems drug abuse wreaked on the nation.
On the loss of revenue, Mr Agyeman-Manu said the nation lost money in the form of funds to cater for drug addicts at the psychiatric hospitals and in the prisons.
He, therefore, urged stakeholders in the health sector to come up with proactive and sustainable measures to fight counterfeit drugs and drug abuse in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, for her part, said the authority had put in place a number of measures to clamp down on counterfeit, substandard and unregistered products on the Ghanaian market.
Apart from collaborating with various agencies to check the arrival of products in the country, she said, the FDA had also trained a number of people and deployed them to check products sold on the market.
Mrs Darko stressed the need for the various agencies, particularly those at the country’s borders, to collaborate with the FDA, considering the fact that most of the counterfeit drugs arrived through their channels.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, in his remarks, said out of 300,000 cases brought to all the psychiatric centres in the country in 2017,10 per cent were people who had issues with drug abuse.
He said for the fight against counterfeit drugs and substance abuse to make an impact, the government would have to equip the institutions mandated to enforce the laws.