The Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare has said the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has a crucial mandate and will make sure there is continuous and seamless health care delivery in the country despite dwindling donor funding.
To achieve this objective the Health Service has begun adopting strategies that ensure scarce resources are invested in only proven interventions with ICT as the basis for management decisions and resources allocation matched with performance.
Complementary funding from external donor agencies in support of critical public service in the developing world has been declining over the years putting pressure on governments in sustaining, improving and expanding such services to the population. The health sector in Ghana like several others faces this challenge and many leaders have struggled with the problem in the past. However, Dr. Nsiah-Asare, the new Director General of the Ghana Health Service says there are no easy ways of going around the problem than to adopt difficult but prudent initiatives that will ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the operations and allocation of resources for implementing various health care programs in the country.
“Since taking office, I have been interested in the approaches, processes and tools for undertaking effective planning, budgeting and performance management” he said.
It is his firm believe if the Ghana Health Service can invest effort in the formulation of comprehensive plans and budgets covering all funding and resources it will help to clearly establish the funding gaps then the service can begin to encourage the leveraging of resources from other sources to fill these gaps.
Earlier this year, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo made a public statement in which he identified improvement in efficiency in health sector budgeting and resource management as one of the best strategies that could yield Ghana a lot of savings to support expansion of health programs. The President who promised to tackle the situation revealed that his appointment of the Hon. Kweku Agyemang Manu, a renown Management Accountant to head the Health Ministry was in pursuit of this objective. The call by the Director General therefore reflects the vision of the leadership of the country to transform the image of the public sector.
Besides demanding effective planning and budgeting, Dr. Nsiah-Asare is proposing a system of resource allocation where all regions, units and divisions will receive funding for their programs and activities based on clearly spelt out performance indicators. And he has a well-thought-out idea on how to pursue this objective: the establishment of a performance monitoring unit to be at the Office of the Director General under his watchful eye.
Dr. Nsiah-Asare made all these known at the opening of a meeting of Senior Managers of the Ghana Health Service in Accra. While welcoming participants to the three-day forum, the Director General said the theme of the meeting “Confronting planning and budgeting in the Ghana Health Service: Retrospective and prospective for 2018-2021 “was carefully crafted to drum home the urgent call to ensure the effective alignment of resources to achieve performance targets.”
The Director General commended all directors and managers of the service for their hard work and dedication and for the significant gains recorded in the 2017 half-year performance review. The service, he noted achieved Under 5 Malaria Case Fatality target recording 0.22% as against 0.48%. Through effective planning and target surveillance the service also achieved zero cholera deaths countrywide. He added that the service also recorded 80.3% rate in the proportion of HIV positive pregnant women who received Anti-Retroviral Therapy ((ARVs) for preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) exceeding the national target of 75%.
Dr. Nsiah-Asare was however not happy that the service was still grappling with high Institutional Maternal Mortality which stands at 162.4/100, 000 Live Births in the half-year of 2017 and skilled delivery at 28.7% below the national target of 32.5%.
He announced the elevation of Health Promotion Unit to the status of a full Division, and his vision to see the establishment of a Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Ghana. Dr. Nsiah-Asare acknowledged all health partners for their tremendous contributions and reminded national and regional directors of their duty to create supportive environment to attract and motivate staff to work hard to support the achievement of the UN SDG and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The Chairman of the Ghana Health Service Council Dr. Yao Yeboah expressed the determination of the council to promote health tourism, put in place succession plans in the sector to facilitate smooth and timely replacement of retired staff as well as the construction of residential accommodation for health staff. He said all these plans and policies were in line with the council’s vision of making quality health care accessible to the population.
The representative of the health development partners Dr. Robert Mensah backed the Director General’s calls for improving efficiency and matching resources allocation with performance while pledging the continuous support of the partners to the country’s health care goals.
Story by: Mathias Aboba