Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, the General Secretary of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA), has called on government to rethink the training of Otorhinolaryngology nurses if the country is to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.
Otorhinolaryngology is a surgical subspecialty within medicine that deals with conditions of the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) and related structures of the head and neck.
Doctors and nurses who specialize in this area can diagnose, evaluate and manage a wide range of ENT diseases and related fields.
Mrs Ofori-Ampofo said the UHC mandated countries to ensure equity in access to health, quality of health services and the protection of people against financial-risk.
There was also the need to improve the infrastructure of the only existing school and establish more ENT training institutions in the country to enhance admissions, she said.
Mrs Ofori-Ampofo made the call in Accra at the opening of the Second Congress and Sixth Scientific Session of the ENT Nurses Group, Ghana.
The five-day congress and scientific session are on the theme: “Towards Universal Health Coverage: the Role of the Specialized ENT Nurse.”
She said ENT nurses played a central part in public health in the control of diseases and infections and, therefore, the need to ensure that all the great work they did was captured in the District Health Information Management Systems Two(DHIMS 2).
That, she noted, would cover the conditions ENT nurses treated to build the data Ghana needed on those cases in the country.
“The conduct of assessment of patients’ ear, nose, throat, head and/or neck involves the use of special instruments such as tongue depressors, otoscopes, head lamps, foreign body removing forceps and various sizes of special syringes, which need to be made available to these specialists to practice their profession,” she said.
For countries to reach Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health, well-being and attain UHC, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the world needs an additional nine million nurses and midwives by 2030 including ENT nurses.
Mrs Ofori-Ampofo said policy makers must understand that UHC was a political choice and strive for equity and justice in health, which required careful policy dialogue tailored to Ghana’s needs and capacity.
Mr Bismarck Asare, the National Chairman of ENT Nurses Group, Ghana, said the most cost-effective way to improve access to essential health care was to invest in primary healthcare and asked that attention was given to ENT nurses.
He said the country currently had less than 50 ENT surgeons instead of the needed 400 and a little over 350 ENT nurses as against the 2000 required to cover the more than 30.42 million population of the country.
Outlining the numerous challenges of the Group, he said it was disheartening to note that most ENT cases seen were not captured on the DHIMS, thereby, making it difficult to track records of the number of people affected.
Mr Asare appealed to the Ministry of Health to support the ENT Nursing School to train more nurses and called for financial support for nurses who pursue the course.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, in a speech read on his behalf, commended the group for its contribution towards healthcare delivery in the country.
He said the Ministry was pressing on to ensure that basic quality health services were accessible to all persons in the country.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said government efforts to beef up human resources in the health sector include programmes related to ENT Nursing to enroll more specialists based on standards.
He entreated all Senior Nurses to help mentor the young ones to build a formidable future for the profession.