West Africa Pharma & Healthcare Expo 2024 to showcase digital health solutions, E-pharma potential


By Buertey Francis BORYOR

The fourth edition of the West Africa Pharma Healthcare exposition- a comprehensive international pharmaceutical medical and healthcare industry exhibition – is set to take place from the 8th to 10th May 2024 in Accra.

Organised by WEGVORAUS Exhibitions and under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Trade and Industry, the event will unite stakeholders from the pharmaceutical, medical, and healthcare industries, such as pharmacists, retailers, manufacturers, exporters, wholesalers and more.

With approximately 150 exhibitors from India, Turkey, the USA, Egypt, Italy, Ghana and other nations, it anticipates drawing over 5000 visitors from both the host country and West Africa.

According to the organisers, the event aligns with the government and President of Ghana’s mission to strengthen the country’s healthcare system and infrastructure. This initiative aims to benefit all industry stakeholders and the nation’s populace. Additionally, it provides a platform for industry and stakeholders to connect and interact with potential business partners.

This year’s theme, “E-Pharmacy & Digital Health,” speaks to the significance of adopting technological advancements to improve the efficiency, accessibility and affordability of the country’s healthcare systems.

Speaking at the media launch of the expo, Anthony Ameka, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Federation of Africa Medical Equipment, Disposables and Devices Manufacturers and Suppliers (FOAMEDDMS), stated that e-pharmacy and digital health solutions offer unprecedented opportunities to overcome obstacles, improve patient outcomes and revolutionise healthcare provision throughout the world.

He referenced data indicating the rapid global growth of the e-pharmacy sector, which reached a market size of around US$42.32 billion in 2021. He added that mobile phone penetration in West Africa exceeds 80 percent, making it a substantial platform for the provision of digital health services.

“Africa’s e-pharmacy market is projected to reach US$1.5 billion, with Ghana estimated at around US$50 million at a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 15 percent from 2021 to 2026, a trend which indicates a significant shift towards digital healthcare solutions and presents opportunities for investment and innovation in the sector,” he added.

Against this backdrop, he emphasised the importance of collaboration, friendly regulatory frameworks and digital literacy to maximise the benefits of digital health solutions in the region. He added that the growth underscores the potential for investment and innovation in the country’s healthcare sector, particularly in digital health start-ups, technology infrastructure and healthcare facilities equipped with digital solutions.

He further noted that investing in digital literacy programmes, regulatory frameworks and cybersecurity measures is crucial to support the sustainable adoption of digital health initiatives in the country while expansion of its health market offers investors the opportunity to contribute to improving healthcare access, quality and affordability.

For his part, Harrison Abutiate, Chairman of the Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy underscored the need for the country to develop a vibrant pharmaceutical industry.

He also suggested the creation of pharmaceutical parks in the Southern, Middle, and Northern regions of the country. These parks would boost the production of essential raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to ensure their consistent availability locally for the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.

“The government must use an executive instrument to acquire at least 2000 acres of land in each zone for the establishment of pharma parks. We believe this will encourage more investors to set up base here.

“Presently the country manufactures only 30 percent of its pharmaceutical products, This is not good enough. COVID-19 taught us that we cannot continue to depend on other countries to provide basic necessities for our survival,” he lamented.

He highlighted that apart from job creation, the pharmaceutical parks would establish special purpose vehicles (SPVs) to guarantee continuous and cost-effective production. This approach, he noted, aims to make the final products competitive and affordable.

Dr. Godwin Acquaye, CEO of the Business and Financial Times (B&FT), a partner of the West Africa Pharma Healthcare Expo, noted the urgent need to examine how current digital innovations, particularly artificial intelligence, are impacting the domestic pharmaceutical industry.

He revealed that the B&FT plans to organise a conference focused on the industry, where policymakers and industry leaders will discuss, among other topics, how domestic pharmaceutical companies can harness pharma-tech and AI to enhance healthcare delivery.

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