By: Dawda Baldeh
The National Pharmaceutical Services at the Ministry of Health with support from partners and stakeholders held a day-long validation exercise for its National Medicine Policy 2022-2025 at Kairaba Hotel in Senegambia on Tuesday, 21st June 2022.
The policy document is expected serve as a basic for driving health sector priorities and planning as a good resource allocation process and all other related pharmaceutical policies among others.
According to the WHO, access to medical products and technologies is one of the six building blocks of a health system.
In his opening remarks, Babanding Sabally, Director of Pharmaceutical Service underscored the significance of the document, adding that its validation is timely. “Access to health is a fundamental human right. However, access to health cannot be fulfilled without the availability of essential medicines,” he emphasized. He further disclosed that medicines, health supplies and vaccines are often the second largest expenditure in public budget.
The National Medicines Policy (NMP) aims to contribute to the attainment of quality health services for the population of The Gambia through ensuring the continuous availability, accessibility and affordability to the essential medicines. “A weak Pharmaceutical sector cannot support quality health delivery system,” Mr. Sabally said.
He used the opportunity to thank their partners for the continuous support, adding that the ministry and partners are committed to providing quality health service delivery to the people.
Dr. Ahmed Lamin Samateh, Minister of Health, said over the years the pharmaceutical sector has registered significant achievements, citing the enactment of Pharmacy Council Act 2014 and Medicines and Related Products Act 2014 as examples which led to the establishment and functioning of the Medicine Control Agency and The Pharmacy Council of The Gambia in 2016.
“A significant success also registered by the Ministry of Health through the Pharmaceutical sector is the shift in policy in the procurement of Pharmaceuticals from single sourcing to international competitive bidding,” he said. “The policy will provide a new direction for the Health sector development,” Dr. Samateh added.
The World Health Organization country representative, Dr. Desta Turineh, said they are pleased that the country has walked through the difficult moment of the pandemic in developing a robust National Medicine Policy.
He reiterated WHO’s continuous partnership with the Ministry of Health to provide efficient and quality health care service delivery to the people. “WHO has been supporting the process of the policy and we are planning to work with the Directorate of Pharmaceutical Services in foreseeing the essential medicine list which will be use to guide the insurance scheme and benefit package,” he said.
The National Medicine Policy validation forum was attended by the Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmad Lamin Samateh, WHO country representative Dr. Desta Turineh, senior officials at the ministry of Health and Partners who both expressed optimism that the document will assist the ministry and partners in ensuring quality health care service delivery which is expected to be reviewed and validated in 2025.