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Regional News of Thursday, 21 February 2008

Source: GNA

Northern Region faces shortage of health professionals

Tamale, Feb. 21, GNA- The Northern Regional Directorate of Health Services (RDHS) is faced with the shortage of critical staff such as doctors, professional nurses, pharmacist, midwives and laboratory technicians.

Dr. Akwasi Twumasi, Northern Regional Director of Health Services said this at the annual performance review meeting of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in Tamale on Wednesday.

The meeting was on the theme: "Strengthening systems for effective and efficient delivery of services through community participation". The Regional Director said out of eight medical doctors posted to the region last year only one reported.

He said, out of three other specialists, including a physician and a gynaecologist who were posted to the region as a result of postings of specialists from Accra and Kumasi Hospitals only the physician had reported at post.

Dr. Twumasi said the movement of nurses and other staff to the sub districts and the communities was also being hampered because of over-aged and weak motorcycles, adding that most of the vehicles in the older districts were now weak and frequently broke down.

He said it was amidst these problems that the health service was faced with the recent floods which seriously affected healthcare delivery to the communities, adding that this gave way for increase in diarrhoea, malaria and dysentery cases.

He commended the health personnel in the region and the country's development partners for the support the Regional Directorate of Health Services received during and after the floods and said the medicines and food items had contributed to the prevention of an epidemic. Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Northern Regional Minister noted that the problem of accommodation was one of the factors hindering the acceptance of health professionals to come to the region and promised that the Regional Coordinating Council and all the District Chief Executives were prepared to provide accommodation to those who accept to work in the region.

He suggested that a permanent solution to the accommodation problem would be to build a health workers village and said the chiefs would be more than willing to release land for such a purpose.

Alhaji Idris noted with concern reports about the dwindling flow of funds to the Directorate of Health Services, particularly the hospitals and said some scheme managers who delayed reimbursements were making the situation worse.

Alhaji Idris said this was affecting the smooth implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) since inadequate resources would make quality health delivery ineffective to the detriment of the insured patients and resulting in the lack of confidence in the health facilities.

He said the government placed high premium on the NHIS and would therefore not countenance any attempt to sabotage it.

"I therefore entreat heads of institutions encountering difficulties in the smooth implementation of the scheme not to hesitate to bring such difficulties to my attention for the appropriate redress before they kill public interest and confidence in the scheme", Alhaji Idris said.

The Regional Minister announced that government had secured funding and arrangements were being concluded with contractors for work to begin next month on the Tamale Teaching Hospital saying; "This is no longer a promise. It is a reality".

Alhaji Idris said reports reaching his office indicated that some nurses and staff of the various health facilities were not treating patients with respect, courtesy and compassion and entreated them to exercise some restraint even at the point of extreme provocation on the part of some patients.

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