The Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR), an NGO, has suggested that allowances for nurse trainees should be only paid to those willing to undertake courses in specialised areas such as Midwifery and Paediatric Nursing.
These areas, it said, lacked adequate staff, the Alliance said, and urged the Government to allocate more resources to service delivery because of the substantial decrease in donor commitment to the health sector.
Nii Arkonu Annorba-Sarpei, Programme Manager, of the ARHR said these at a civil society organisations’ forum on the analysis of the health component of the 2018 Budget Statement of the Government.
The Alliance also suggested that the revenue realised from the National Health Insurance Levy should be separated from the consolidated funds and all proceeds allocated directly to the scheme.
It commended the Government’s efforts at addressing the staffing gap in the health sector with the employment of 15,667 staff.
Mr Annorba-Sapei, however, stated that the Budget Statement was silent on the update of the work on the Ghana Health Service staffing norms, as outlined in the 2017 Budget Statement.
He said there was also no clear direction on how the Government would address the inequitable distribution of existing health workers across the country.
The Programme Manager said despite the Government’s acknowledgment that the health sector faced funding challenges in the past, the Sector’s Budget only increased marginally by 4.6 per cent in nominal terms, saying in real terms, there was a 0.1 per cent decline.
Mr Annorba-Sarpei said the health sector was not included in the 12 medium term priorities of the Government, despite the poor performance of most health indicators.
On health Infrastructure, he said, the Government indicated a strong commitment to complete some of the health infrastructure projects it inherited from the 2016 Budget.
Mr Annorba-Sarpei said though laudable, the budget did not mention any attempt to complete or construct a single CHPS compound despite the CHPS being the first point of contact for many Ghanaians, since there were currently more than 200 uncompleted CHPS.
He said the removal of 17.5 per cent VAT on selected pharmaceutical products was a commendable effort, and that the initiative would influence the pricing of medicines and cost of purchase of medicines by the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Alliance, he said, believed that the 2018 Budget did not depict the Government’s commitment to the health sector, particularly, in its attempt to achieve universal health coverage.
“The health sector continues to face a huge funding gap, especially as compensations continue to consume a large chunk of allocation to the sector,” he said.
“Allocations for goods and service delivery as well as infrastructural investment continue to be inadequate,” it added.
Nana Ayisha Mohammed, Senior Programme Officer, ARHR, sharing the analysis of the Ministry of Health allocation in relation to the Abuja Declaration, said the 2018 Allocation showed a slight decline of 0.54 per cent and 0.55 per cent, compared with 2017 and 2016 allocations.
She said compensation over the last three years continued to be above 50 per cent, while goods and services remained at below 40 per cent.
Capital expenditure still received the lowest allocations, which was less than 14 per cent, he said.
Ms Mohammed said the high reliance on Internally Generated Fund for the provision of goods and services was likely to impose huge pressure on health facilities to generate income by levying patients to pay for services, which should be free.
She said the Alliance was of the view that the Government seemed to have abandoned Primary Health Care, which was positioned at the lower tier of the health structure as its focused more on infrastructural development at the regional and district levels in hospitals.