Community pharmacy in Ghana: enhancing the contribution to primary health care

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It is widely believed that pharmacists could make a greater contribution to the provision of primary health care, especially in developing countries. Particular strengths of pharmacy services commonly cited include their accessibility within many communities and the opportunities for advising on the management of health problems. The potential for pharmacy to respond to health care needs and contribute to specific health policy objectives is receiving greater prominence both internationally and in individual countries. However, despite this widely acknowledged potential, developments have been limited.

Pharmacy is concerned with promoting the safe and appropriate use of drugs. Drug use in developing countries has frequently been described as irrational. It is influenced by a wide range of factors, including health and drugs policy, the organization and provision of health care, the availability of objective information, and health beliefs and cultural perspectives regarding health and drug therapy. The practices of pharmacy retailers, which are conducted in the context of wider structures and processes of health care provision, have also been questioned.

The aim of this paper is to consider possible directions for community pharmacy service development in Ghana. The paper draws on the literature relating to health care, drug use and pharmacy in Ghana to describe the background against which pharmacy services operate. In the context of current directions in pharmacy practice and policy, potential opportunities and barriers regarding the development of services are then addressed.

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