Patient involvement in building trust in healthcare systems: IAPO members at the Africa Stakeholder Roundtable

Monday, 15 October 2018

IAPO members from Ghana, Christopher Agbega of Sharecare Ghana and Theobald Owusu-Ansah of Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana, represented IAPO at the 'Africa Stakeholder Roundtable: Trust in Healthcare Systems' organised by the Fight the Fakes Campaign and The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations - IFPMA in Accra on 19th September. Our members were involved in the conversation of fighting fake medicines at a local level and here share their views with us:

1. What is the relevance of the topic of the Roundtable for patient organizations in Ghana and Africa? 

Christopher - Sharecare Ghana: In an area where patient organizations like Sharecare Ghana seeks not only to manage the health conditions of patients living with Autoimmune and Nuerological conditions but provide for them better healthy conditions, this topic of fighting the fakes becomes very relevant. It enhances the operations of patient organizations in Ghana and Africa with knowledge on current issues in the pharmaceutical and medical field, and how we can put a stop to the influx of fake medications in our system.

Theobald - Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana: It is true that there is a crisis of trust amongst the Ghanaian public concerning the ability of Ghana’s healthcare system to provide quality health outcomes. The issue of mistrust is systemic in all facets of life and came as a result of broken promises and empty words. The topic of the meeting was therefore very relevant to the needed country’s efforts toward improving the health status of its inhabitants. 


2. What was the level of willingness among stakeholders present to have patients engaged and participating in: building trust in health authorities and healthcare professionals and In Ghana and Africa’s efforts in raising its health standards in the ethics and business integrity space?

Theobald - Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana: There was a very high level of willingness among stakeholders present to have patients engaged and participating in building trust in health authorities and healthcare professionals asa result of the realisation that  it is only through united approach with equal opportunities given to different stakeholders: patient organizations, pharmaceuticals industries, business entities and health practitioners, can we really restore and build trust in our health care systems.


3. What are the next steps for the patient movement in Ghana and Africa as a result of the Roundtable?

Christopher - Sharecare Ghana: The next steps for the Patient Movement is to advocate against the Gifting Policy as this is forbidden and also inform the general public about the need to keep the Food and Drug Authority Ghana on their toes to monitor and stop unauthorized pharmaceutical companies from operating.

Theobald - Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana: The next steps for the patient movement in Ghana and Africa is to extend the indoor meeting to their various platforms to engage and interact with all the stake holders in the health sector to contribute towards fighting fakes medicines. These can be done in the form of a coalition with health professionals, policy makers, drugs authorities, legal system, patients, media, the community leaders, etc, in the churches, mosque, durbars, etc, to educate the public. 

In Ghana the patient community  will play a strong advocacy role (through meetings, seminars, lobbying and serious stakeholder’s sustained engagement) in the search of solutions: that improve global health and put in place a health system that will discover, develop, and deliver medicines and vaccines that improve the life of patients.

4. What was your highlight of the event …and lowlight?

Christopher - Sharecare Ghana: Good representation of practitioners and stakeholders in the medical and pharmaceutical fields.
Lowlight: It was hard to follow some of the discussions. Some opening statements were too long that the actual topics (Trust in health systems) were poorly tackled and there was a poor representation of patients and persons with disability. Such topics need a lot more time for discussion, not a few hours.

Theobald - Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana: My Highlight of the event was the panel session made of stakeholders to explain to us their    importance and relevance in the fight of the fake’s drugs. But sadly, enough time was not given for questioning and answers (sessional participation) which eventually became my lowlight of the day.


5. What did you learn from this event and how might you use this lesson in your organization?

Christopher - Sharecare Ghana: Learnt much about public health protection against fake drugs and the extent to which these unauthorized drugs can cause future illnesses, disability and even death. I've already started and continuing to share the knowledge gained with my organization during our meetings and preparing a proposal to include them in our advocacy agenda.

Theobald - Hepatitis Foundation of Ghana: I better understood how fake/counterfeit drugs emanate in the health system and how it could be prevented. The negative impact of the fake drugs results in death, that fake drugs business is a crime and the reason I involve myself to fight the fakes. As usual of my organization, “Fight the Fakes” will be part of our advocacy activities, awareness creation and the frequent educational activities.