Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, has described Ghana’s health sector performance for the year 2020 as mixed, saying although tremendous progress was made in some indicators, “a number of our milestones suffered.”
The Health Minister, who was addressing the National Health Sector Annual Summit for 2021, which opened in Accra, said there were clear indication that the sector, had recorded significant performance in some areas, for which it must be congratulated.
Unfortunately, the sector failed to achieve for instance, the target of 62 per cent skilled delivery in 2020 and instead, recorded 55.4 per cent, while institutional neonatal mortality also worsened from 7.3 per 1,000 live births to 7.5 per 1000 live births within the period, he said.
He maintained that efforts at bridging the equity gap, however, continued to show some improvement, but attributed the challenges encountered to inadequate financing of health sector programmes, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The four-day maiden virtual health Summit on the theme: “Strengthening the Resilience of Ghana’s Health System to better respond to Emergencies,” had participants from the health sector, academia, civil society, development partners, private sector partners and the media.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the meeting, would review the performance of the health sector in the implementation of its 2020 Programme of Work, and generate fresh ideas to augment that of the 2021.
He mentioned some key achievements of the sector in 2020, which include the launch of the revised National Health Policy with a paradigm shift to engage other sectors to achieve a Health-In-All Policy concept, to meet the aspirations of Ghanaians and improve their quality of life.
Other policies launched included the Human Resource for Health Policy to fashion out incentives for health workers in rural and deprived communities, a Healthcare Waste Management Policy to improve health care waste management, and the Universal Health Coverage Road Map for Ghana.
He said Public Testing sites for COVID-19 were increased from one to 12 and for private, from zero to nine, and government begun the development of the hospital and infrastructure strategy to guide health infrastructure planning.
The introduction of the game-changing mobile renewal of membership by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), increased membership of the scheme from 12.29 million in 2019 to 13.96 million people in 2020, while drone services for medicines and medical supplies to deprived areas had remained effective, Mr Agyeman-Manu said.
He said the Ministry also secured clearance for 58,191 health workers to be recruited in 2020, and that out of that total, 50,970 were permanent staff and the remaining 7,221 were temporal workers.
The Minister said advancing sustainable development and improving performance of health systems meant enhancing financial and human resources, ensuring appropriate use of health technology, community empowerment, robust data and financial management systems and good governance which in the end produced better health systems.
He said there was also increased investment in Primary Health Care (PHC) through partnership with development partners, the private sector, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), religious and traditional authorities and non-governmental organisations, to build effective, responsive, fair, efficient and resilient health systems
This he said was key, to reducing inequalities, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and improve national development.
He said the government, would continue to expand health promotion programmes, scale up disease prevention strategies and improve access to curative and emergency services, through vigorous human resource and health infrastructure development and strengthening of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as well as pre-hospital care with the continuous supply of state-of-the-art ambulance vehicles.
He also pledged the Sector’s commitment towards ensuring safe services that were sensitive to the needs of women and other disadvantaged populations.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the Regional Director for WHO AFRO (African Regional Office), congratulated the Government of Ghana for its swift action to secure the initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility, and for the improvement in primary health care delivery as well as NHIS to reduce the financial access to health care.
Ms Stephanie s. Sullivan, the US Ambassador to Ghana, recounted its joint efforts with the health sector over the years to achieve gains in several disease interventions including malaria and polio vaccine administration.
She called for an increased investment in Public Health Care policy, budgetary allocation, and strengthened skills and competences equally distributed across the country to ensure quality service provision.