Feature Article of Friday, 17 February 2017
Columnist: Robert Mensah
By Robert Mensah
“It is remarkable how health facility regulation at the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency has improved over the last year – you clearly see professionalism, openness, competence and strong leadership”, Daasebre Dr. Amankona Diawuo II, Omanhene of Berekum has observed.
The regulation of health facilities in the country has recorded significant improvements over the last couple of years thanks to the establishment of the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency. This is gradually leading to greater access and equitability in terms of health service provision especially in areas that hitherto did not have quality health facilities, especially in times of emergency.
The primary activity of most regulatory bodies is to protect the public. Regulatory bodies exercise functions that include imposing requirements, restrictions and conditions, setting standards and securing compliance or enforcement. Regulatory bodies in the health sector currently operating in Ghana include the Medical and Dental Council, Nurses and Midwives Council, Health Facilities Regulatory Agency, Allied Health Professions Council, Pharmacy Council, Food and Drugs Authority, amongst others.
With the introduction of the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency some few years ago, the body has ensured that, for example, licensing of some health facilities that had stalled for over five years has been progressed to ensure that quality health care is accessible to individuals especially in the rural and peri-urban areas to prevent loss of lives. It is pleasing to see that monitoring and inspections of facilities under the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency continues vigorously in an attempt to reduce quackery, ensure that healthcare facilities are legally registered and have competent and accredited health professionals at work.
In addition, the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency checks that facilities are well designed and operate within an external environment conducive to the provision of quality health care delivery. Although a fairly new Agency, the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency was set up in 2011 to regulate public and private healthcare facilities in Ghana.
Its work supports the Ministry of Health’s objectives. According to the words of Kate, a maternity owner and midwife in Jirapa noted, “the regulatory processes for licensing are so much clearer and transparent now”, adding, “Indeed, the Chief Executive, Dr Sylvia Anie, has transformed the place in a matter of six months.” For instance, a six member delegation of Chiefs of the Berekum Traditional Council in September 2016 visited the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency in Accra to proffer appreciation to the Chief Executive for doing the seemingly impossible in enhancing quality care in a collaborative and personable manner.
The delegation included the Omanhene of Berekum, Nana Buamaa Asantewaa-Twafo hemaa, Nana Ofori Mensah-Oforikromhene, Nana Baffour Gyau-Akyeamehene, Nana Kusi Yeboah-Nifahene and Nana Amotima Gyan – Twafohene. Many well-wishers including private health facility owners, practitioners and public health staff have remarked on the improved processes of applying for a license. These achievements, within a short period of time, has been made possible due to the excellent leadership and drive of the current Chief Executive who has decades of experience as a public health and development expert within both international and national organisations.
Comments from senior officials in the sector both home and abroad bear testimony with several endorsements illustrating how the current leadership of the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency has positively steered the activities of the institution. More encouragement to Dr Anie and her team as they continue to sanitise Ghana’s health delivery processes. Undoubtedly, there will be challenges and opposition but they must continue to work towards the common goal of progressing quality healthcare.