Health News of Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Source: GNA

Ministry of Health addresses the media on health sector performance

Accra , Nov 15, GNA - Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of health, has emphasized the need for Ghana to build strong institutions to manage challenges in various sectors of the country, rather than relying on supposed abilities of strong men.

He indicated that the current democratic dispensation required patience and respect for the Rule of Law in addressing all issues and grievances of workers and urged those who had various challenges to channel them through the appropriate institutions for redress instead of resorting to strike actions. Mr Yieleh Chireh, who took his turn at the Ministry of Information’s instituted Meet-the-Press series in Accra on Tuesday, appealed to all workers, especially those in the public service sector, to follow laid down procedures and processes to address their concerns.

He said government had taken various actions to address the current strike actions in the health sector and that currently, consultations between the Ministry of Health Management Team and the Heath Sector Unions and the Fair Wages and Salary Commission were on-going to ensure a lasting solution to their salary issues.

He explained that the President had also set up Emergency Services Taskforce and supplied them with medical consumables to manage emergency situations at the 37 Military Hospital, Police Hospital, Korle-Bu, Okomfo Anokye, and Tamale Teaching Hospitals and other health facilities during crises. Speaking on the performance of the health sector between the periods 2009 to 2011, Mr Yieleh Chireh explained that the Health Sector had not done badly at all and had managed to achieve successes especially on the reduction of maternal and child mortality over the period. He said the sector had a four-year strategic plan which spanned from 2010 to 2013 with five broad strategic objectives and within that time-frame it had been working towards bridging the gaps in access to health and nutrition services and ensuring sustainable financing arrangements that protected the poor and strengthen efficiency and effectualness in service delivery.

Mr Yieleh Chireh mentioned other objectives as improving access to quality maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent services, intensifying prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases as well as strengthening institutional care, including mental health service delivery.

Mr Yieleh Chireh said inspite of these broad objectives, the sector in 2011 focused on some critical areas including maternal and child health, reproductive health, routine vaccination, malaria control, HIV and AIDS control and prevention, guinea worm eradication, Regenerative Health and Nutrition and Traditional and Alternative Medicine.

He mentioned specific interventions such as free maternal and child health services under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), equipping of hospitals with obstetric equipment, improved referral system as well as leadership training to reduce maternal and child mortality in the country as efforts geared towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal by 2015. Mr Yieleh Chireh said through interventions such as increased access to primary health care services, expanded coverage of the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) to 840 functional zones, provision of adequate infrastructure and equipment for health institutions among other things, ante natal coverage increased from 32.4 per cent in 2010 to 46 per cent in 2011, while post natal coverage also improved from18.7 per cent to 29.5 percent over the same period. “Maternal mortality declined from 451 in 2007 to 350 in 2010 showing a significant decrease. In order to achieve the MDG 5, which is reducing maternal mortality to 185 per 100,000 deaths target by 2015, our efforts need to be doubled,” he said. He mentioned the MDG Accelerated Framework (MAF) which had been developed as an umbrella framework to address maternal mortality and was being used as a resource tool in the assessment and writing of the report on Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC). Mr Yieleh Chireh said vaccinations of children against the nine killer diseases were carried out nationwide including Vitamin “A” supplements for children aged between six and 59 months, adding “Ghana had been Polio-free since November 2008, while measles cases had drastically reduced.” He said there were high political commitment as well as full community involvement during national immunization campaigns to ensure that children living in the country were healthy and free from diseases.

In the area of malaria control, he said the sector focused on awareness creation amidst ensuring case detection and treatment, improved drug supplies, distribution of insecticide treated nets, indoor residual spraying and Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT ), for infants and pregnant women among other things.

The Health Minister said the ministry had also embarked on campaigns on regenerative health and nutrition with emphasis on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles with the aim of ensuring disease prevention and restoration of health.

He touched on the progress of the National Health Insurance Scheme, saying a total of 239 health facilities had been accredited at the end of June 2011. He said the National Health Insurance Authority established a Clinical Audit Directorate to address fraud in claims management and indicated that from January 2011 to June, a total amount of 28,925,293 claims were audited from 101 health facilities.

“Out of this GHC 471,215 were recovered from private health facilities and 755,582 from government facilities,” he said. He, however, said the health sector faces several challenges and constraints such as inadequate resources in terms of human, financial and material, to effectively operate, while its increasing wage bill, sustainability of the NHIS and identification of the poor under the NHIS made it difficult to reach out to the targeted group.

He called for the strengthening of Public Private Partnership to enhance performance, ensure accountability and reduce locum and gave the assurance that government was still committed to the One-Stop-Shop of the NHIS.