Health News of Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Source: Mathias Aboba
: Director General GHS
The Director General of Ghana Health Service, Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, has said Ghana’s grassroots health care delivery strategy - the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programme- is one of the most comprehensive and sustainable initiative for achieving the best health outcomes and cable of helping the country attain the health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Dr Appiah Denkyira made the observation when he addressed participants at a regional half year health sector performance review forum in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region. He said Ghana’s health sector needs strong integration and more commitment and collaboration in implementing a health system which connects with CHPS at the community level, linking up with each of the district, regional and specialized hospitals around the country.
He was of the view that even though Ghana continues to receive commendation locally and from the international community for making ascensive but steady progress toward the achievement of the MDGs on health, the country could have been doing better considering that as a nation a lot of resources have been committed to the health sector. In his view, the country abounds with various high impacting innovations and rich caliber of human resource. He added that it was against this background that our current level of performance on the health MDG indicators should be a cause of worry and concern to everyone.
The Director General said His Excellency the President of the Republic, John Dramani Mahama and the Sector Minister, Honorable Sherry Ayittey are constantly encouraging and urging all stakeholders to continue to work harder towards the attainment of the MDGs on health and the other goals. Thus, this should be motivating enough for the Ghana Health Service and all other key players who are concerned to go the extra mile in doing something new to bring about the much desired end results.
He commended the Upper East Region for being a model region for innovations in health and asked for the meticulous documentation of the various innovations that continue to emerge from the region for the essence of replication in other parts of the country. Dr Appiah Denkyira was particularly happy that the Upper East Region continues to lead the rest of the country in the implementation and scale-up of CHPS; an initiative which was started in the region by the Navrongo Health Research Centre. Other notable areas the region leads in innovations include health information and data capture, as well as child and maternal health services. The Director General pledged the service’s commitment to tackling the challenges affecting the quality and access to health care delivery, including problems of poor motor bikes for community service, cold chain and other logistics constraints.
The Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Honorable Daniel Syme, who also addressed the forum, commended the Regional Health Directorate for the commitment in increasing health care coverage to the population. Honorable Syme said the Regional Coordinating Council was concerned about the challenges of the few number of medical doctors and other specialized health staff in the region as well as other challenges facing the health sector. He pledged his willingness to support in various ways to minimize the impact of these challenges on health care delivery. He tasked all Municipal/District Assemblies to continue to support health care delivery in their various areas through the provision of infrastructure (including staff accommodation).
Earlier on in a welcome address the Regional Director of Health Services, Dr John Koku Awoonor-Williams, congratulated all health workers in the region for their hard work and dedication to duty over the years –particularly the period under review. He said the performance of the health sector of the country is very critical to the overall progress and development of the nation, hence the need to periodically make careful evaluation of the sector’s performance so as to constantly put in place measures that allow the service to effectively employ its strength and utilize the available opportunities to subdue all threats while improving weaknesses in the country’s health system.
Dr Awoonor-Williams said, the Upper East Region’s choice of the theme “Scaling up maternal and new born care innovations to achieve MDGs 4, 5 and 6” for the 2013 half year performance review is in line with the region’s desire to go beyond strategy and action to results: “As a region, we continue to employ all the possible high impact rapid delivery innovations and initiatives towards the realization of our shared vision…… that no woman dies while giving life and no child dies before his or her fifth birthday”.
He noted that the region’s poor performance in the half year came from a few areas including the expanded program on immunization (EPI) and under-five malaria case fatality. Most of the sector’s key performance indicators however recorded significant improvements when a three-year trend was compared. Major among the indicators included a fall in the proportion of malaria to total morbidity from 43.3% in 2011 to 37.4% in 2013, in deaths attributed to Cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) there was a significant reduction from 38 in 2011 to 18 in 2013, maternal mortality reduced from 168/100,000 LBs in 2011 to 129/100,000 LBs, supervised delivery increased from 33.3% in 2011 to 47.6% in 2013, and family planning coverage went from 13.5% in 2010 to 31.3% in 2013. CHPS implementation also saw an improvement in terms of functionality; CHPS coverage in the region currently stands at 83% compared to 50% in 2013 with a total of 200 functional CHPS out of the 242 demarcated zones.
Dr Awoonor-Williams hinted that the Upper East Region depends on sound strategies and innovations for success. He mentioned some of the strategies to include the Ghana Essential Health Intervention Programme (GEHIP), the Essential Newborn Care (ENC) programme, the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTecH) project, the Sustainable Emergency Referral Care (SERC) project. Others are: CHPS, the “Zorko Initiative”, the Health Commodity Schedule Delivery Scheme, and human resource and infrastructure investments among others.
He stated that dwindling government subvention, coupled with National Health Insurance Authority (NHA) indebtedness to facilities continue to pose resource threat to health sector performance in the region. He expressed the hope that authorities in the sectors concerned would take urgent steps to address the situation.