The Oncology Pharmacy Association of Ghana (OPAG) has commended the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) for including Herceptin, a lifesaving medicine for breast cancer patients, in the Medicines List of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The Association said since the addition of Herceptin on the medicines list in July 2019, the number of breast cancer patients who benefited from the medication had increased beyond 1000 per cent.

This has reduced the direct financial burden on breast cancer patients and also improved their quality of life, the Association said in a statement issued and signed by Samuel Obiri-Yeboah, OPAG President.

The statement explained that the Specialist Anti-Breast Cancer Medication was not accessible by breast cancer patients because of the high cost of the medication, with only about five per cent of patients being able to afford the medication prior to its inclusion in the NHIS medicines list.

The statement said even the few who afforded it could not complete the full cycles of 1 year (18 cycles) as recommended.

It said the drug was currently accessible at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and called for extension to all regional hospitals.

We are urging the NHIA to extend the programme to cover all other Teaching Hospitals in Ghana to improve access to the medication.

The statement cautioned cancer patients, including those with breast cancer to observe the COVID-19 protocols despite the decline in positive cases because some cancer patients have weakened immune systems which can make them vulnerable to all forms of infections (including (COVID-19).

We, therefore, recommend mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands frequently, exercising and eating healthy diets, it said.

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