Dr Charity Sarpong, the Regional Director of Health Services, Greater Accra, has called for a redirection of health research by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to fully achieve national health targets.
She said improvement in healthcare service required a deliberate focus on providing effective, safe, people-centered care that was timely, equitable, integrated, efficient, and of standard quality, hence much more work needed to be done.
Dr Sarpong who was delivering a keynote address at the opening of a two-day GHS National Health Research dissemination forum in Accra, said “we cannot underrate the importance of health research if we want the best of health for our population.”
The GHS must pay critical attention to health research now more than ever to be able to navigate through the complexities and highly dynamic contemporary environment of healthcare challenges, often influenced by multiple diverse but interrelated factors, she said.
She suggested that by redirection, the Service must ensure that research work was not left in the hands of a few people who were often labelled as researchers in the Service.
All other personnel, including those at regional, district and community levels should be involved for targeted and coordinated investigations to avoid duplication of efforts, under-achievement, and wastage.
She noted that although GHS had been conducting diverse health research as an integral part of its operations, most of the investigations were often donor funded and not targeted at achieving policy implementation to address the core health challenges of the country, attain comprehensive and sustained services with healthy treatment outcomes.
She indicated that by building on existing credible information, it would ensure the prudent management of scarce resources and prevent a cycle of experimentation, fill gaps in knowledge, and change the way health professionals worked.
The Regional Health Director stated that health research had been of tremendous support to Ghana’s health delivery system by providing credible information and the understanding needed to take valuable decisions leading to expected and cost-effective and improved patient and client outcomes.
She cited some achievements resulting from health research outcomes as the development of vaccines for illnesses, including malaria and COVID-19, and other enhanced healthcare policies and services such as the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) system, Vitamin A supplementation and distribution of Insecticide Treated Bed Nets (ITN) nationally.
Dr Abraham Oduro, the Director of the Research and Development Division of the GHS, called for improved funding for health research and the development of a health research policy that would fully empower GHS through capacity building of its staff to maintain its leadership and governance.
Dr Mrunal Shette, the Chief Health and Nutrition Officer at UNICEF Ghana, representing health sector development partners, pledged to provide sustained technical support to GHS to enable Ghana to effectively position itself for effective progress.
Dr Anthony Ofosu, the Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, who chaired the forum, urged the participants made up of health researchers, policy makers, health and programme managers, to openly share knowledge in areas such as health management information system, health policy, healthcare workers education and service delivery.
That would help in addressing key challenges and bottlenecks to achieve the various health objectives to reduce morbidity and mortality in Ghana.