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Opinions of Monday, 16 April 2012

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

The Plights Of Ghana’s Health Posts

- Focus On Ave-Dakpa Health Post

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

April 12-15, 2012 edition of The Catalyst reports, “The people of Ave-Dakpa and its environs are being denied their basic right of access to quality and smooth healthcare delivery, as the only health centre in the vicinity, the Ave-Dakpa Health Centre, is in great shambles” adding, “The health post lacks basic needs such as human resource, equipment, beds and medicines to deliver its mandate.”
For me, this is no news. A couple of years ago, together with a few others, I did write a series of articles highlighting the sordid state of the facility for public attention and redress but to no avail. The first time I used the media to expose the plight of the facility was in 2010. A pregnant woman once visited the facility just to be left in the open to deliver of her baby-no bed and no midwife to assist.

Surprisingly, I have been told this was the same facility that witnessed my birth about a few decades ago. Till date, there seems to be no significant improvement in prevailing conditions. The centre’s information officer, Madam Fidelia Danyo, is therefore right to have revealed that there is virtually nothing concrete for one to lay hands on as a developmental project at the facility. Thank you, Antie Fidelia, for your concision and honesty. It is only a handful of people like you who could speak the way you have spoken, especially under a regime where political victimization has become the order of the day.
Anyone who really knows the Ave-Dakpa Health Post would appreciate the fact that the people at that part of the country are really going through difficult times accessing quality healthcare. How can a health facility exist with no permanent medical and nursing officers, source of water, laboratory equipment for simple tests, reliable means of transport, toilet facility and medicines for common ailments? In fact, the situation is an insult to the status of a constituency which is proud to have its parliamentarian as a deputy speaker and staunch member of the ruling party.
The Ave-Dakpa Health Centre is more of a chip zone than a health post. There is nothing in it that is living; everything is totally dead. One would have expected that the so-called indices used for adjudging the area’s long-serving MP, Mr. Edward Doe Adjaho as the most illustrious and development-oriented son of the area at a politically motivated ceremony in Akatsi just recently would feature whatever contribution he made to healthcare delivery in Ave area too. That never happened; the man was heavily eulogized unfortunately by individuals who actually were ignorant or had little knowledge about the realities on the ground.
As a result of the sorry state of affairs at the facility, inhabitants of the area have lost confidence in the operations of the few personnel there. One now visits the facility to see poor, suffering patients cry for salvation, which, in most cases, elude them. Complicated cases are usually referred to St. Anthony’s Hospital at Dzodze, which is also struggling with its limited resources.
In as much as I agree to the fact that Ghana’s healthcare delivery system, of late, is in total mess, I am still using this medium to again appeal to government, NGOs, corporate bodies and philanthropists to come to the aid of health facilities, especially the Ave Dakpa Health Centre. The Kufuor administration started constructing a better facility close to the one currently in use. This project must be completed to allow for the creation of more units and supply of resources so the people can access good healthcare. It is about time a permanent medical officer, one or two state registered nurses, laboratory technician, pharmacist or dispenser, community health nurses, ward assistants and if possible, a midwife were posted to the facility.
It must be appreciated that the people of Ave are predominantly peasant farmers. Poverty and hunger is therefore rife. Their continued survival would be threatened should they continue to battle with where and how to access affordable, quality healthcare services.
My appeal goes to the Akatsi District Directorate of Health Services to regularly extend public health and environmental sanitation programs to the people of the area. There is the need for allied agencies like the environmental health and sanitation department, information services department, Environmental Protection Agency, churches and schools to also join hands.
If only it is true that Mr. Edward Doe Adjaho spearheaded the free NHIS registration program for teenagers, women and the aged somewhere last year in order to make healthcare delivery accessible to all irrespective of one’s economic background then my appeal is for him to fast track things for prospective beneficiaries to start using them. The release of the cards to beneficiaries has been long overdue. Or should it be taken that the delays are in anticipation of the December elections campaigns?
I side with The Catalyst when it said, “If Ghana could meet its United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target by 2015 of the goal number 4 and 5, which aims ‘To reduce child mortality’ and ‘To improve maternal health’ respectively, then the conditions of health facilities such as the deplorable Ave-Dakpa Health Post need serious and urgent attention.”
Actually, looking at the way and manner we struggle to make ends meat coupled with deplorable health conditions, I see it as a kind of tease on the part of government when it says it has so far chalked unprecedented feats. It is my fervent prayer that the writers, editors, designers and publishers of the “Green Book” will one day reach Ave too to document the ‘crowd of beautiful projects’ the area has witnessed so far.