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Sustaining Safer Use of Antibiotics in Ghana

10 November 2020


During a visit to Ghana last year we met Justus, a Senior Pharmacist at the Ghana Police Hospital in Accra, who is involved in the Commonwealth Partnerships for Antimicrobial Stewardship (CwPAMS) partnership with Healthcare Improvement Scotland which aims to strengthen the capacity of the health workforce to tackle to growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). He explores antibiotic use in the Ghanaian context and the role of pharmacists in tackling AMR.

As pharmacists, we do clinical audits on medications and ensure that medicines respond to diagnoses and are dispensed rationally. We also do interventions to ensure that we are corresponding with protocols and where we see that a particular indication does not correspond with a medication, or the dose doesn’t correspond with this indication, we make some changes. We also provide dispensing services, patient counselling and medicine therapy management. Sometimes we also educate our colleagues on new information concerning drug protocol.

Interest and passion led me to become a pharmacist. When I was younger, I wanted to produce medicine, and that was the main motivation. The best thing about my job is seeing a patient happy, seeing someone who has had a very bad infection, and knowing that because of my contribution to therapy management they have recovered. The biggest challenge to this is the cost of healthcare, which is a hindrance to access to healthcare for the average Ghanaian.

Through the CwPAMS partnership with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, I gained more information on how to collect data for the point prevalence survey and how how to interpret this data and apply it to our profession and our day to day activities. This needs to be ongoing, so I also intend to train other people to have these skills in the future.

The challenges to implementing the new guidelines on AMS are around commitment from management. For the doctors to agree that these changes will help, and for the pharmacists to agree, it has to start with the leadership. In our system, when your senior gives an instruction that is it, so management being committed enough to give instructions means that everything will go smoothly.

In terms of the benefits to partnerships, UK partners can also learn a lot as in this part of the country, we have a lot of infective cases, so data from these places will enrich the knowledge of our Scottish partners on these types of infections and will enrich their scientific investigations and discoveries.

Our pharmacist team comprises about 15 pharmacists in number. We have technologists that we work with, and a clinical directorate unit that oversees the interaction of the wards, ensuring management of the wards and that standards are adhered to. We also have colleagues who are responsible for dispensing medication to clients and those who do patient counselling. Additionally, we have a public health department that carries out tuberculosis and HIV counselling.

We are trying to standardise therapy and that fact that the doctors have recognised that we pharmacists play a role in therapy management is my best achievement. As a pharmacist, my hope for the future of the hospital is that every department will have a pharmacy unit so that we have more specific, localised and streamlined services. This would make our services more impactful in each department. In general, as a medical team member, I am hoping that we have more insight from partnerships with specialities so that we make it a standard procedure in our day to day activities.

Justus, Senior Pharmacist, Ghana Police Hospital

UK partners can also learn a lot as in this part of the country, we have a lot of infective cases, so data from these places will enrich the knowledge of our Scottish partners.

Justus - Senior Pharmacist, Ghana Police Hospital

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