The Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare has reiterated the commitment of the Health Service to lead the country to achieve Universal Health coverage (UHC) before the United Nations (UN) end-line date of 2030.
The Dr. Nsiah-Asare disclosed this at a meeting of Senior Managers of the Ghana Health Service in Accra. The Senior Managers Meeting (SMM) is a bi-annual forum of the GHS and attended by Regional and National Directors of the Health Service as well as district managers, health partners and other stakeholders. The SMM is a platform used to review the Health Sector’s performance, assess ongoing interventions and to map out plans that serve to give direction for Senior Managers on priority areas for improving health care service delivery in the country.
While welcoming participants to the 2018 first SMM, Dr. Nsiah-Asare said the Ghana Health Service is resolved as ever to live up to its institutional mandate and challenges of making quality and affordable health care accessible to all . He argued that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) provides opportunity for securing financial access to health services for the population, what the Ghana Health Service believes could facilitate this process effectively are innovative payment mechanisms that would adequately fund health care delivery at the primary level. The Health Service is therefore focusing on forging partnerships with stakeholders to explore opportunities for accomplishing these objectives.
“The focus of the Health Sector going forward is to ensure Universal Health Coverage at the Primary care Level through financing mechanisms that will cover all CHPS zones, Health Centers, and Private Maternity Homes”. He said if we could do this, “Ghana will be achieving UHC at the primary level by 2020”. Looking beyond that the country could “then gradually progress and scale up health care eventually to cover secondary and tertiary health services” he stressed.
The Director General said notwithstanding some challenges the Sector experienced, there were improvement in a number of key areas in 2017. Among the indicators that registered improvement were Institutional Maternal Mortality Ratio, Stillbirth and Under-five Malaria Case Fatality rates. Others areas of improvement include EPI Coverage, CHPS coverage, Family Planning, and Skilled Delivery.
He observed that while the Health Service looks at building upon the successes chalked in 2017, particular attention will be paid to the areas that witnessed poor performance. Some of these areas that call for renewed focus include TB Case Notification rates, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission for HIV and high levels of Anemia in Pregnancy.
Dr. Nsiah-Asare cited over-aged vehicles, poor distribution of human resource and inadequate numbers of some critical health staff as some of the major limitations of the Health Sector and therefore hampering quality of health care services. He expressed his disappointment regarding some recent incidences of alleged misconduct by staff in some health facilities in the country and said the Health Service will not countenance any unprofessional conduct by an individual or group of persons. The Director General went on to disclose that leadership of the Health Service is currently cooperating with law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation into the alleged death of some persons reported to have received treatment at the New Senchi Health Center in the Eastern Region.
He said, the Service is working on strengthening collaboration with Private and Mission health facilities to improve data capture and service utilization. Similarly, the Health Service has begun to prioritize the application of Information Technology (IT) to address some of the bottlenecks and drive excellent health service delivery towards the achievement of the health related Sustainable Development Goals. He charged managers to take cue from the outbreak of H1N1 at Kumasi Academy and Lassa fever at Tema General Hospital and pay serious attention to surveillance to avert disease outbreaks.
While acknowledging the important contribution of development partners to the health sector, the Director General said the recent initiative to engage partners with the aim of aligning and harmonizing their assistance will continue as part of ongoing measures to achieve efficiency and to address critical gaps in the system. He appealed for support for his strategic initiatives among which include plans to provide every district with a new pick-up vehicle and every sub-district a motor bike to address urgent need of transportation for service delivery, monitoring and supervision at the lower levels.
In a speech read for him, the Minister of Health, Honorable Kwaku Agyemang Manu commended staff and management of the Ghana Health Service for their dedicated service to the nation and appealed to all health professionals to maintain high professional standards in the discharge of their responsibilities at all times. The Minister also used the forum to challenge the leadership of the Health Service to take urgent steps to address all problems relating to the management of funds secured by Government for health projects in the country.
In a solidarity message, the Chairman of the Ghana Health Service Council, Dr. Yaw Yeboah, said the Council is making every effort to provide the Health Sector with strategic leadership and oversight for the smooth and excellent delivery of quality and accessible health care service to the Ghanaian population. Dr. Yeboah underscored the importance of team work, partnership and collaboration and hinted that the Council is making efforts to forg collaboration with the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) and other key stakeholders in ways that create opportunities for achieving the objectives of the Health Service.
Speaking on behalf of Development Partners, the Country Representative of UNPFA Mr. Niyi Ojuolape commended the Government of Ghana for important social services initiatives such as the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Livelihood Empowerment Program, and the Community-based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) program, all of which in his opinion has helped to set Ghana on the path for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Mr. Ojuolape on behalf of the partners assured the Ghanaian Government of their commitment to support the President’s vision of “Ghana Beyond Aid” stressing that it is important for the country to sustain and expand the gains in the health sector especially in the area of family planning.
The 2018 first Senior Managers Meeting was under the theme “Strengthening Performance to Achieve Universal Health Coverage: Critical Review of the 2017 Performance.” The Forum was chaired by Ms. Gladys Ghartey of the Ministry of Finance.