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Health News of Sunday, 17 February 2008

Source: GNA

Regional Minister urges health managers to use funds judiciously

Takoradi, Feb.17, -GNA- Mr. Anthony Eavans Amoah, Western Regional Minister, on Friday called health managers to use funds provided by the Global Fund for various activities under tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS programmes judiciously to achieve set targets and make the attainment of Millennium Development Goals on their treatment and eradication a reality He made the call when closing the Annual Performance Review Meeting of the Regional Ghana Health Service (GHS) at Takoradi. The three-day meeting was under the theme: "Renewing Leadership Commitment to the GHS Agenda". Mr Amoah said not withstanding budgetary constraints arising out of competing demands on scare government resources, adequate funding had been provided for tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS programmes. He urged health managers to ensure that funds allocated to them are used effectively and efficiently for the programmes so that more funds could be released. Mr Amoah said certain developments and practices within the health sector in the region were conspiring to undermine the full realization of the benefits of well intended health interventions. He said reports from various monitoring activities have shown that resources were not being managed effectively and efficiently in some districts and health facilities in the region.

Mr Amoah said there were credible reports that funds for the High Impact Rapid Delivery (HIRD) intervention were used by some districts for activities completely different from those approved under the programme.

He said the result was that the intervention had not achieved the needed impact in the region, adding that despite the shortfall in funding, some appreciable successes had been achieved. Mr Amoah said Out-Patient Department (OPD) attendance in the region increased from 1,324,866 in 2006 to 1,724,606 in 2007, while OPD visit per capita has also increased significantly from 0.57 per cent in 2006 to 0.72 per cent in 2007.

Immunization of children 0-11 months improved from high coverage of 85,461 (92 per cent) to 89,707 (94 per cent) and pregnant women attending antenatal clinic has gone up from 86,3328 to 87,975. Mr Amoah called for improvement in supervised delivery, saying 42,887 deliveries were supervised in 2006 compared to 46,996 in 2007, an increase of one per cent.

He expressed happiness that those who have registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) were benefiting as shown in statistics from the various health facilities and about the reduction of the period between registration and accessing health care. Mr Amoah said teething problems facing the scheme included slow re-imbursement of health providers by the scheme, late release of supplementary funds from the National Health Insurance Authority, difficulty in operationalising the gate keeper concept under the scheme and lack of logistics for effective work.

"My attention has been drawn to an instance of fraudulent deals involving health personnel and action taken by the Regional Health Directorate to ensure that sanity prevails", he said, adding, "any fraudulent acts would disturb the equilibrium that we are gradually achieving".

Mr Amoah said the poor reception of clients by some service providers had seriously brought the image of the health sector in the region into disrepute.

He said these negative developments have established the need for a critical look at attitudes and behaviour towards clients and urged health managers and all health personnel to work hard to reverse the sinking image of the profession.

Mr. Amoah said the incidence of malaria, which accounted for 46.9 per cent of OPD attendance, 38.9 per cent of hospital admissions and 16.5 per cent of hospital deaths in the region, was a cause for concern. He said malaria needed to be addressed with all the seriousness it deserved and bed nets have been distributed to children less than 5 years as well as pregnant women adding, "We all need to intensify our public education on the benefits of bednet use and encourage its usage". Nana Adu Agyeman, Chairman of the Regional Health Committee who presided, said the threat posed by new diseases notably HIV/AIDS and re-emergence of old diseases such as malaria, yaws, tuberculosis was a source of major concern.

He urged District Directors of Health Services to liaise with district and Metropolitan Assemblies to implement preventive measures against malaria, saying, the emphasis should be on preventive measures because until the environment was kept clean by distilling chocked gutters and disposing of millions of tonnes of refuse, the eradication of malaria will be a mirage.

The World Health Organisation presented awards to Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai and Jomoro district assemblies as well as the Shama-Ahanta East Metropolitan Assembly for their campaign against HIV/AIDS at the function.

The Mpohor Wassa East District was adjudged the best in the performance of health programmes and was presented with a deep freezer while the Dixcove Hospital was presented with a split air conditioner for purchasing most of its drugs from the Regional Medical Stores.

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