The Health Minister, Major Courage Quashigah (retd), has expressed concern about the untimeliness and unpredictability in the disbursement of funds from the country's development partners.
He said given that development, it was unfortunate for the development partners to turn around and complain about the failure of the ministry to attain its stated objectives.
Opening the Ministry of Health (MOH)/Development Partners Health Summit in Accra on Tuesday, Major Quashigah stated that while the development partners failed to disburse close to $12 million in 2005, they had, as of October this year, failed to disburse $18 million.
"Within this context, how can the sector implement its programmes successfully and achieve its targets?”"he asked.
Major Quashigah said while the development partners had called for expansion in training institutions and increased enrolment, as well as better remuneration for health professionals, they also at the same time complained about the huge financial constraints on the budget.
The minister said there had been slow progress in health outcomes and stagnating health service indicators, although financial resources within the health sector had been increasing.
He said the ministry was aware that if the current pace continued, it would be difficult to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adding that it was for that reason that the ministry defined the high impact rapid delivery health programme to achieve the MDGs.
Major Quashigah said the government, in collaboration with the development partners, allocated ¢50 billion for the implementation of the programme in the four most deprived regions, namely, the Central, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
He said ¢50 billion had also been earmarked for the programme next year. According to the minister, the health system was threatened by the brain drain, frequent industrial actions, obsolete equipment and inadequate access to health services.
He said it was as a result of these that the government decided to abolish the additional duty hours allowance (ADHA) and pay health workers living wages.
"We did this to increase the remuneration, motivate the staff and slow down the brain drain of key health professionals and eliminate the frequent industrial actions which continue to undermine service delivery which hurts the poor mostly, since they cannot afford the cost of treatment at private clinics,” he stated.
Major Quashigah said the ministry would require ¢1.8 trillion in 2007 to respond to its capital investment, saying, "We have been able to mobilise a little less that 50 per cent of this requirement in the 2007 programme of work."
The Charge d'Affaires of the Netherlands Embassy and representative of the development partners, Mr M. J. P. Bierkens, conceded that the productivity of health workers did not only depend on their training and financial motivation but also heavily influenced by the working environment and the availability of equipment and medicines.
He noted that while the efforts to increase the number of health training institutions and the number of students were appreciated, "such efforts appear to be poorly planned and co-ordinated, without clear policies and without an effective human resource management system complementary to other management systems such as Public Finance Management and a Health Management Information System"
Mr Bierkens commended the government for its courage to establish the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in an innovative manner