From Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
This year’s National Drug Safety and Health Awareness Campaign by the Ghana Pharmaceutical Students Association (GPSA) has been launched in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo Regional capital, with a call on Pharmaceutical students to accept postings to rural communities after their training to help reduce the canker of drug misuse and abuse in the countryside.
The Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Eric Opoku, who made the call in an address to launch the campaign, urged the students to devote themselves to the well-being of the communities in which they would soon have the opportunity to serve after their training to educate them on sound health practices and disease prevention.
“As core stakeholders in the health care delivery system, you need to also identify common health problems in communities while working to create interventions, to correct or prevent health issues you might discover,” he stressed.
This year’s public education on the theme: “Promoting National growth and development through the campaign against counterfeit drugs; Ensuring Improved Rational use of Medicines and Healthy Lifestyle” would take place in all the 22 municipalities and districts in the region.
The two-week campaign which is also to collect data on drug use and abuse in the region is aimed at providing individuals and communities with information, and to foster skills and confidence, which will enable members of the public to use medicine in an appropriate, safe and judicious way.
In all, eight students would be deployed in each of the 22 municipalities and districts in the region where they would embark on public education at churches, mosque, market places, schools, community centres and also house to house campaigns.
Mr Opoku commended the students for the initiative and expressed the hope that it would help reduce the incidence of quack drug peddlers, druggists and herbal practitioners with little or no knowledge in pharmacy who sell unwholesome and unprescribed drugs to innocent members of the public and the less privileged in the society.
In an address read for the Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, by the Chief Pharmacist and Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service, Mr James Ohemeng Kyei, the students were called on to incorporate in their education diseases of public health importance like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and the pandemic influenza HINI.
He further urged the students to drum home the message on the need for all business of importation, wholesale and retail sale and distribution of medicines licensed by the Pharmacy Council to procure all their medicines from legitimate sources so as to make drug counterfeiting unattractive.
Dr Kunbuor also urged the students to collaborate and partner the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) to spread the message against the use of narcotic drugs, especially in second cycle and tertiary institutions and the need to observe basic hygienic practices in the homes and workplaces.
The President of GPSA, Mr Arnold Donkor, for his part, said public education was seldom allocated the necessary human and financial resources and therefore appealed to Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), pharmaceutical companies, and individuals to support the future campaigns in other regions and also to the good people of Ghana and other organisations toward this worthy course.