Ghana’s universal health coverage in danger

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Ghana is revising it National Health Financing Strategy to ensure that Ghanaians have timely access to quality health services irrespective of their ability to pay at the point of use
Photo credit: WHO Ghana

Ghana’s quest to attain the World Health Organization’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030 will suffer a setback if the government does not invest adequately into the health sector, a health advocate said Wednesday.

In an interview with Xinhua, Leonard Shang-Quartey, the coordinator of Policy and Advocacy at the Alliance for Reproductive Health Right, a non-governmental organization, said Ghana currently lags as far as achieving the global UHC agenda was concerned.

“The UHC agenda which Ghana has signed onto has a global target date of 2030. But with less than a decade and looking at the expenditure on the health sector from the national budget, Ghana is far behind and needs to invest to catch up,” he said.

If the West African country must attain the UHC, the government must use the country’s tax resources as the main financing source together with the Annual Budgeting Fund Amount from the oil resources and donor support to invest adequately in the health sector, said Shang-Quartey. “The tax monies should be directed at things that concern the basic existence of Ghanaians.”

He indicated that by the UHC target, “All individuals and communities must receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. It includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care across the life course.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the availability of health systems and services globally, many countries were already making progress toward UHC to provide undisrupted health services to their citizens, the health advocate said.

“I think countries over the world are now implementing a universal health care policy because they realized that health care cannot be an individual responsibility but rather the responsibility of the entire country,” said Shang-Quartey. “That is the reason people pay taxes and contribute to the national trust fund because individuals cannot build hospitals for themselves and buy the equipment and expensive medicines needed to treat certain ailments.”

“Many countries are using their tax monies to ensure that the facilities and services are available for people so, we expect the Ghanaian government to properly invest to uphold the human right to health for every Ghanaian, “said Shang-Quartey.

He was optimistic about the prospects of achieving UHC if only the Ghanaian government would invest adequately into physical infrastructure for health and services. Enditem.

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