Health Minister Courage Quashigah has called for strenuous efforts to develop the human resource base of the country with special emphasis on child health if the country is to attain its vision of 1000 dollar per capita income by 2015.
“The health status of our children to a large extent reflects our level of health literacy as parents, health workers, community and nation,” Major Quashiga said in a speech at the 80th anniversary celebration of the Princess Marie Louise (PML) Children's Hospital in Accra on Saturday.
He said the health of the child was very important in the development of the nation because the current stock of children constituted the real wealth of the nation and not necessarily its natural resources.
The event at which individuals and institutions were honoured for their contribution to the oldest children hospital in West Africa, climaxed a year long line up of activities.
It was on the theme: “Children: Your health is our concern”.
Major Quashigah said education and health were requisites for national development and constituted the foundation of socio-economic development in today's knowledge-led global economy.
“There is a new wave blowing in the world today; that wave is inaugurating an economic miracle in countries that have moved quickly to position themselves to take full advantage of it and that wave emphasizes the transformational power of human capital,” he said.
Major Quashigah said countries that took pains to invest in the health and education of their human capital some 30years ago were enjoying the dividends today and it had become evidently clear that countries like Korea, Singapore and Malaysia whose per capita income as at independence was lower than Ghana's have become economic giants due to these investments.
He said the health of children or human capital should be the concern of all well-meaning Ghanaians for, “it is only a strong, healthy, active and intelligent human capital that can be productive enough to create the wealth for all to share.”
He said society and government at large should therefore take keener interest in the health of children because they were the future of the nation.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Campbell, board chairman of the PML hospital said the facility was very strategic and significant because it was just one of the few in the country that specialize in child healthcare.
He said since its establishment PML had treated so many children and continues to offer quality care for children from across the country, adding that it was through the exploits of the hospital that “Kwashiorkor”, a disease associated with malnutrition was discovered.
Rev. Fr. Campbell said in spite of the hospital's strategic importance it was faced with numerous constraints including the lack of theatre, an emergency centre intensive care unit and other facilities.
He appealed to the government and benefactors to contribute towards the expansion and upgrading of the hospital adding, “a hospital without a theatre is like a house without a kitchen”.
Dr. Matilda Agyeman, Director of PML, said major diseases prevailing in the area of public health were communicable diseases which still remained a problem for the hospital.
This, she said, was due to insanitary conditions, poor drainage system and over-crowding.
“Malaria continues to be the highest cause of out-patients visits and exacts the highest demand on the service followed by diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infections, anemia, malnutrition and HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Agyeman added.