You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2010 05 02Article 181160

Opinions of Sunday, 2 May 2010

Columnist: Adede, Mercy Bolus

Ghana’s healthcare system - A question of coherence

The future of Ghana Health Service is still questionable even though there have been advances in certain areas.

The polyclinics in Ghana are a blessing, this is something the U.K Government is contemplating of having as the population increases and doctors and nurses are being over stretched to cope with this pressure.

One can remember going to a polyclinic and being tri-age by the nurses before being referred to the main hospital if needed. This was the journey of my late father. I was there with him from his admission to Korle-Bu polyclinic and followed all the processes before being referred to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Medical ward 1. The services we received back in 1979 without doubt were excellent. Both the doctors and nurses and all the other staff back then had the passion, knowledge and above all love for their patients. In today standard of medical care, this experience may be a history in some cases.

Do we have structures and services to tackle our lack of strategic coherence at all which is now becoming not only a barrier to the patients and referrals but significant cause of their low productivity of hospital services.

What is the future of our polyclinics in Ghana? What development route have we developed so far for our non-core services?

Are there technologies advances at our polyclinics at all? Is our Government renovating such clinics and earmarking money for an annual maintenance at all if any? Have we also got system in place, which automatically link the police to child protection and domestic violence issues?

This is where Ghana falls short in. Whilst some hospitals in Ghana get funded with all the modern advances others are left using primitive equipment. Is there a strategic coherence at all? One wonder if the service offered at such polyclinics value for money for Department of Health.

A typical description of a polyclinic in the early 1970’s plus was that it was one stop shop with all expected services. This was indeed value for money. However these excellent services have been neglected for so long making the staff-feeling disillusion about the services they provide. This is because they work in a less desirable environment while the Government spend our limited resources in mundane things like Ghana @50 celebrations etc.

On the contrary when we reflect on what Britain NHS, which started like Ghana, have advanced in 50 years you would question the standard of our nursing practices. Why do emulate Britain and their advances in staff development, encouraging older staff to stay on as long as they are capable to work and share their talents etc.

Let’s be optimistic that the current Government who is also forging relationship with Cuba will soon realise that for all we hear about Cuba, health care is however a top priority over there. They also have time to relax and perform simple exercise on a daily bases something we do not take very seriously at all in Ghana. Let have a better healthcare system with integrates a diverse service and use operational models to deliver a substantial improvements in our productivity and reflect more effectively the developing needs of the patient and the paying NIHS patients.

Let have an integrated quality assurance in all our hospital and have peer review system and other measures as done in businesses, the balance scorecard instilled into the spine of Ghana healthcare in order to improve the standard of card. Can Ghana match this challenge! I challenge the Minister of Health to address this issues head on as one or the other we all end up seeking medical service when all the private hospital fail to address our own health issue. Never say I am all right because how could one be when your next-door neighbour can’t afford medical care. This is where we kid ourselves.

Let have debate over the future of our health services, expose some of our serious weaknesses and offer help to our primary care services. One hope Ghana will learn from Saudi Arabia when they had their oil money and seriously invested in health systems, education and general improvement of their whole country. Ghana must not see any slums like Sodom and Gomorrah springing up again. We must work with Saudi Arabia to learn from them. This is called the double loop learning process.