Strengthening community commitment to quality health services delivery; the P4H Agenda

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People for Health (P4H)
People for Health (P4H)

A GNA feature by Edward Williams,

Being healthy remains the wealth and best gifts an individual can acquire for themselves to ensure that they are able to go about daily activities in stable and quality conditions.

Governments all over the world as well as recognised international bodies have prioritised health of every individual irrespective of sex, age, religion, ethnic, race or professional background. Indeed, health is wealth.

It is not surprising that health would take the third slot on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with targets expected to be achieved by end of 2020 and some 2030.

SDG 3 is aimed to “Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.” The goals however contain goals hence could be termed as “a goal within a goal,”

Some of the health targets for SDG 3 are to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, end preventable deaths of new-borns and children under five years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births by 2030.
Epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases were also targeted to end by 2030 universally.

“By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

“Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”

As stakeholders work assiduously around the clock to achieve these Goals, as at 2017, at least half of the world’s population could not obtain essential health services.
A 2017 World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) Report, further stated that each year, large numbers of households were being pushed into poverty because they must pay for health care out of their own pockets.

“Currently, 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. For almost 100 million people these expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty, forcing them to survive on just 1.90 US dollars or less a day.”

“It is completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

“And it is unnecessary. A solution exists: universal health coverage (UHC) allows everyone to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship.”

The situation is no different in Ghana, where most people also lack access to quality health services due to high cost of care, inadequate or no insurance coverage, lack of availability of services and lack of culturally competent care.

Various governments have since made pledges to ensure quality health service delivery to citizens as well as remove some barriers that made it impossible for people to access health services.

Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Agencies within the sub-region and beyond are making considerable efforts to ensure citizens have access to best of quality health deliveries through many projects, one of which is the ‘People for Health (P4H).’

P4H is aimed at ensuring improved access to quality health service delivery for citizens in 20 districts selected from five regions.

The project seeks to strengthen organisational and institutional capacities of government and civil society organisations (CSOs) for mutual accountability in health, HIV, water and sanitation, and nutrition policy formulation and implementation.

It is a five-year project being implemented by a consortium of three organisations led by SEND-Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), with Penplusbytes and the Ghana News Agency as members, and sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The target regions include Greater Accra, Eastern, Northern, Volta and Oti and spans from 2016 to 2021 with a series of training for Community Health Management Committees (CHMCs) in the communities to ensure quality health service delivery.

During a recent sensitisation workshop for CHMCs in the Oti Region, it was revealed that the existence of the Committees has helped in improving the quality health service delivery in the various communities in the Region.

Maternal and Child health, Nutrition, Malaria prevention, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are the health thematic areas being focused on in these communities of the Region.
The Participants were drawn from Ayeremu, Adumadum, Njare, Motorway and Matamanu communities in the Krachi East Municipality of the Oti Region.

Mr Joseph Amevuvor, Krachi East Municipal Health Promotion Officer, has noted that CHMCs had played a vital role in delivery of quality health services in the Municipality.

“The Committees serve as liaisons between the community members and the healthcare providers by passing and delivering information between the two groups. Without these Committees, I don’t think things will work right so they play vital roles so far as the healthcare delivery system is concerned.”

He said the Health Directorate holds meetings to discuss health-related issues in the various communities.

“We recognise the CHMCs as a structure that will be there to continue the education of their communities on these critical health areas,” he added.

He said P4H would update the communities on relevant information as well as support them to develop an action plan for educating their communities through the community radio centres.

Some Committee members said the sensitisation workshop and training they had received had made a great impact in their various communities while they pledged to propagate the outcomes of the workshop to the community members.

Madam Grace Dzitse, a Committee member and a Traditional Birth Attendant from Motorway community, noted that her education to pregnant women in the community on healthy practices during and after pregnancy had a great impact on the women who always were available to learn and know more.

She said problems that the community which is on the outskirt of the community faced were unavailability of a maternity ward attached to its Community-based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) compound and unavailability of a stationed midwife for the community.

Madam Dzitse called for the issue to be addressed to improve on maternal and child health in the Motorway community.

Mr Samuel Ankuyi, a Community Health Nurse in Ayeremu community, noted that the CHMC in the community had been supportive to the delivery of quality health service delivery.

He noted that the Committee also serves as helpful transport in communicating health promotion activities adding that “they have been helping us a lot.”

Madam Akorlige Serwaa, a CHMC member in Njare, said there had been improvement in sanitation issues, which had led to reduction of malaria-related cases in the community.

“We continue to educate our community and hygienic lifestyles such as properly disposing cans to prevent stagnation of water in them which is likely to breed mosquitoes.”

She said the community over the period had come to understand the need to keep a healthy environment as a malaria prevention method and were always available and willing to be educated.

CHMCs drawn from Odumase, Kecheibi and Ofosu communities in the Nkwanta South Municipal and Kabonwule, Azua and Tinjasi communities in Nkwanta North District, had their share of the workshop.

They were re-oriented on their roles and responsibilities in their various communities and how they should actively carry out those tasks to ensure quality health delivery.

Mr Emmanuel Agbodogli, Disease Control Officer, Nkwanta South Health Directorate, has urged members of the various Community Health Management Committees (CHMCs), to work hard in ensuring that quality health service delivery was achieved.

He said the CHMCs were an intermediate committee that worked between health facilities and the community members in their various communities, which made their role an important one, hence the need to be committed in executing their tasks.

Mr Richard Asante, a Health Promotion Officer, Nkwanta South Municipal, sensitized CHMCs on family planning, its benefits, modern family planning methods as well as side effects of family planning.

Mr Richard Anane Adortse, Monitoring and Evaluation Office, People for Health (P4H), said the overall goal for the sensitisation workshop on the health thematic areas was to sustain the work undertaken in the communities when the project ends in 2021.

“We recognise the CHMCs as a structure that will be there to continue the education of their communities on these critical health areas,” he added.

He said P4H would update the communities on relevant information as well as support them to develop an action plan for educating their communities through the community radio centres.
Mr Adortse said there was the need for community members to be abreast with appropriate ways of seeking medical help which was a duty of the CHMCs.

He said CHMCs were recognised groups by the Ghana Health Service while the ‘People for Health’ project was aimed at continuing to provide support for community members in quality health service delivery.

The Community Health Management Committee members also prepare action plans on sensitisation activities in their catchment areas on maternal and child health, nutrition, malaria prevention and WASH in their various Municipalities.

These Plans would also equip and guide them adequately when the five-year duration of the project ends. It will also strengthen the CHMCs and the bonds they developed with their communities which would be beneficial to the sustainability of the project.

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