Exploring the Role of Online Pharmacies in Ghana
The online pharmacy industry is growing globally, including in the developing world. This study explores the role of online pharmacies in Ghana from the pharmacists’ perspective. In particular, it seeks to understand how pharmacists perceive online pharmacies in Ghana in terms of their larger socio-cultural, policy, and communication dimensions, as well as challenges that they face and foresee in implementing online pharmacies given the resource-poor settings in Ghana. Twenty-one in-depth interviews were conducted and analyzed using the thematic analysis approach. Findings indicate that while online pharmacies were in a nascent stage in Ghana, most pharmacists perceived them as beneficial, offering benefits such as convenience, enhancing access to medication, reducing violence, and gender discrimination against women in the pharmacy profession. Also, online pharmacies were perceived to bridge the gap in care between the hospitals and the community pharmacies and in addressing some of the cultural barriers that have long impeded clients from accessing care. On the other hand, respondents pointed to the lack of adequate infrastructure such as roads, internet connectivity, addressing systems acting as hindrance to Ghana's online pharmacy. Finally, it was noted that involving and communicating with varied stakeholders was key to the success of the online program. This study will help online pharmacy industry players in Ghana understand the industry's general scope, its benefits, pitfalls, challenges, and the way forward.
Keywords: Online pharmacy, Ghana, discrimination against women in pharmacy, advantages of online pharmacy, online pharmacy policy, e-pharmacy regulation
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