Advancing Public Health In Ghana Using Multi-sectoral Approach
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) defines a multi-sectoral approach (MSA) as a deliberate collaboration among various stakeholder groups (e.g. government, civil society, and private sector) and sectors (e.g. health, environment and economy) to jointly achieve a policy outcome.
Engaging each other provides the platform for sectors to take advantage of the knowledge and experience as well as the reach and resources that are made available through the diverse strengths of the individual sectors for the achievement of a common set goal.
In this perspective, improving the health status of the people, therefore, does not solely lie within the purview of the health sector, and that, all sectors either within government or private are equally liable in ensuring the realization of quality of life (QoL) for all. The relevance of MSA is further underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 which calls for strong global partnerships and cooperation for the realization of the SDGs by 2030.
The advent of the Novel Corona Virus Pandemic (COVID-19), as well as other past epidemics and pandemics, strongly supports the importance of MSA as a mechanism for combating national emergencies of public health concern. The wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana has witnessed the Ministry of Health working closely with all other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Civil Societies, Private Sector Organizations and other International Organizations for a common goal of managing and containing the pandemic.
It could easily be concluded that without the support of all these sectors, the Ministry of Health would not be in the position to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic all alone. And by the coming on board of all these sectors and organizations, this has strengthened Ghana’s resolve in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, beyond COVID-19 and other future public health emergencies, it is suggestive to note that planning and implementing health services would be more effective and efficient when done in a multisectoral approach.
Sustaining the Gains for Optimal Health
The Health in All Policy Framework of the World Health Organization (WHO) enjoins all sectors to deliberately plan for health in their general scheme of services. Furthermore, the One Health Policy Framework of the WHO also seeks to achieve better public health outcomes through collaboration between different sectors in designing and implementing programs, policies, legislation and research.
The One Health Policy focuses on food safety, control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift, Valley Fever) and combating antimicrobial resistance. There is the need for strong political will as well as national development planning systems and structures to recognise and focus action on this phenomenon to ensure that these policy frameworks are duly adhered to.
In effect, sustaining the gains made so far in the fight against COVID-19 in Ghana would require continues collaboration and engagements between the Ministry of Health and all other sectors for effective planning and efficiency in implementing health services in the country.
The new direction of the Ministry of Health therefore should be the use of multisectoral collaboration as a mechanism for addressing the key determinants of health (genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, social, economic, environmental and medical care) for better health outcomes for the people. The Ministry of Health as the lead sector must show leadership and be seen as working in a multisectoral manner so as to encourage other sectors to join.
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