Officials Gather in Ghana To Discuss Intellectual Property Laws, Accessibility of Low-Cost Antiretroviral, Malaria, TB Drugs
Health officials and legal experts on Wednesday gathered for a two-day meeting in Accra, Ghana, to discuss intellectual property laws that could make antiretroviral, malaria and tuberculosis drugs available, accessible and affordable in the country, the GNA/Accra Daily Mail reports. The workshop, under the theme, "Increasing Access to Medicines in Ghana; The Role of WTO/ Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Flexibilities," is being attended by representatives from local and international pharmaceutical companies, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization and donor organizations.
Health Minister Maj. Courage Quashigah, speaking at the opening of the meeting, called on officials to make a concerted effort to reduce the burden of the three diseases. "A significant component of that effort must be to make effective drugs accessible to people at risk," he said. Elias Kavinah Sory, director-general of the Ghana Health Service, noted that many essential medicines remain too costly in relation to local buying power. Sory said essential medicines have saved lives and improved health but "only if they are available, affordable and properly used."
Quashigah said that there are overwhelming disparities in access to medicines, adding that some current treatments for diseases in developing countries might soon become irrelevant because of the widespread drug resistance. William Ofori, chair of the Association of Representatives of Ethical Pharmaceutical Industries, raised concern about the inability to find new TB treatments and called for collaboration between local and multinational companies to produce quality, affordable drugs (GNA/Accra Daily Mail, 11/7).