More than 130,000 patients visited the Out-Patient Department (OPD) of health centres in the Ketu South Municipality in 2020, the lowest in five years.
Total OPD attendance in all health facilities reduced to 131,384 in 2020 compared to 149,656 in 2019, representing a 12.21 per cent reduction.
In 2018 the Municipality recorded 154,122, 149,847 in 2017 and 155,474 in 2016.
This came out during the 2020 annual performance review meeting by the Ketu South Health Directorate at Aflao.
The forum was to provide feedback to stakeholders in health on the performance of the Directorate, its successes and challenges and the way forward for 2021.
Mr Joseph Kwami Degley, the Municipal Director of Health Services, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said though there might be other factors responsible for the low record of OPD attendance to the 36 health facilities, both public and private in the Municipality, COVID-19 played a part.
The municipality recorded cases of COVID-19 in April 2020, exactly a month after the country had its first two cases of the pandemic in March 2020, triggering institution of restrictions, including the closure of borders, schools and a ban on social gatherings to prevent the spread.
These preventive directives occasioned by the outbreak impacted negatively on various sectors of the economy, in particular, commerce leading to a decline in businesses and total shutdown.
Mr Degley said the health sector was also not spared as some activities planned by the Directorate could not be held and the decline in attendance to health facilities.
“Looking at the indicators, the pandemic disturbed us last year. Home visits declined, mothers failed to bring their kids for immunisation, and OPD attendance dropped.”
“There are those who fear that when they come to the health facilities for treatment, they will end up contracting the virus and so, they prefer to stay at home. That’s not right. It has become more important to seek medical attention for all ailments during these times so that together, we can defeat COVID-19.”
Improved case detection in surveillance, improved media engagement on health Promotion activities, prompt containment of COVID-19 prevention, management and control and prompt containment of Cholera outbreak in the municipality were among achievements the Directorate recorded in 2020.
Challenges faced included inadequate staff, interruption of COVID-19 in the smooth delivery of healthcare, inadequate office space for management staff, the drastic reduction in most targeted indicators for the year 2020 and unavailability of food supplement to manage malnourished children.