By: ?Mathias Aboba-Bolgatanga
The Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Erasmus Agongo, has described the Community-based Health Planning and Service Program popularly called CHPS as the bedrock of Ghana?s health system.
Dr. Agongo made the observation at the opening of a five-day regional and district capacity building workshop on the application of the ?bottleneck analysis? tool for planning and budgeting in Bolgatanga in the Upper East region.? He commended the Upper East region for not only being the originator of the concept but also for continuing ?to lead the rest of the country in the implementation and scale of the program since its adoption as a national? health policy over a decade ago.
CHPS is a national health care strategy that seeks to reduce both geographic and financial barriers to health care access through the zoning and posting of resident trained nurses to community-based facilities where they are supported by community members in the planning and execution of health care services with emphasis on preventive care. The strategy evolved from a community study on family and reproductive health program which was carried out at the Navrongo Health Research Center in the Kassena-Nankana District in the Upper East region in 1993. CHPS has acclaimed international recognition as best initiative for maternal and child survival.
Dr. Agongo challenged regions and districts that are lagging behind in the scale up of the strategy to demonstrate true leadership and commitment in ensuring that good strategies such as CHPS are translated from concepts on paper to action in terms of functioning zones in communities for the provision of health care services to the people.
He noted that ?a number of neighboring African countries including Sierra Leon, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania among others, who heard of the good stories of CHPS and came ?and learnt and adopted the concept recently ?have overtaken Ghana in progress made in most indicators. He said it was surprising therefore that some leaders in the health service still act as if they did not believe in the CHPS strategy despite glaring evidence that the program is a major reason for the best performance of even deprived regions such as the Upper East particularly in areas such as under-five mortality, supervised delivery and other key indicators.
Touching on the import of the health system management training workshop, the PPME Director pointed out that Ghana was endowed with human and material resources but seriously lacked strong and transformational leadership that can take the nation?s health care delivery system forward. He said the President?s decision to sign performance agreement with his ministers was a step in the right direction and indicated that the Director-General of Ghana Health Service who is required to also sign a similar agreement with the Minister of Health will in turn ensure that all Regional, District and Sub-district leaders undertake similar performance agreements, warming that the leadership of the service has undertaken to ensure that ? every pregnant woman has a safe delivery and that no child dies before the fifth birth day and above all communities and indeed the entire population is empowered to protect themselves and prevent communicable and non-communicable diseases and so will not countenance any poor performance?.
Dr. Agongo commended UNICEF for sponsoring the program and expressed the hope that the region?s human resource base will receive a significant boost resulting from the training to bring about improvement in the quality and access of health care service delivery.
The Upper East Regional Director of Health Services Dr John Koku Awonoor-Williams whilst welcoming participants to the workshop said the region was committed to enhancing the motivation and competencies of leadership at all levels of the health system to be more effective in delivering on the mandate of accessible quality health care. He disclosed that previous human resource development programs implemented by the region reveled there were serious gaps in the planning process particularly with regards to the monitoring and evaluation. It is therefore against this backdrop that the bottleneck analysis tool training has become necessary to help link programs properly through effective monitoring and evaluation.
He hinted that the region was also banking on the program to improve its resources mobilization and utilization given the constraints.
Dr. Awonoor-Williams appealed to the participants to avail themselves to the new knowledge and experience and make it a point to constantly evaluate their individual and team performance to ensure they meet the expectations of the public.
He said the region was not resting on its laurels as best performer in national CHPS implementation and a pace setters in health innovations but ?continue ??to work hard to sustain the gains made in under-five and maternal mortality and attaining new heights in areas the region is? not doing so well.
He acknowledged UNICEF and all development partners and stakeholders for their support over the years.