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14.02.2007 Regional News

Northern Region is short of doctors

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The Northern Region has only 30 doctors instead of the required 58 to be able to effectively attend to the health needs of the people.

With the exception of the Tamale Teaching Hospital, which has 12 doctors, the other 17 district hospitals have only one doctor each.

Dr. Elias Sory, Northern Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service disclosed this at the Annual Review Conference of the Northern Region Health Service in Tamale.

He pointed out that for the past two years, not a single doctor had been posted to the region adding: "The number of nurses graduating from the nurses training institutions is also woefully inadequate to fill the various vacancies in the hospitals".

He called for a new training and distribution policy on health professionals, saying: "We have started something but not enough to match the existing gap and the increasing population. We must train not only for the public sector but for all sectors of the economy".

Dr. Sory suggested that the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi and the University of Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale could run courses for the training of medical assistants.

"We have the capacity to train enough medical personnel. The government and policy-makers should be bold to take measures to produce them", he said.

Dr Sory said the problem of accommodation was another factor preventing health personnel from accepting postings to the districts and appealed to the District Assemblies to provide decent accommodation to them to make their stay in the areas a bit comfortable.

The Regional Director expressed regret about the resurgence of preventable diseases such as measles and yaws and urged health workers to intensify their surveillance and monitoring roles to help stem their spread.

Dr. Sory expressed concern about delays in the release of funds by both the government and donors to the health sector to ensure timely delivery of services to the people.

He said: "Urgent steps must be taken to ensure uninterrupted fund flow. For us in the Northern Region, when funds come, they come too late to enable us to deliver health care services in our overseas areas".

Dr. Kyei-Fareid, Deputy Director of Health in charge of Public Health, said the Northern Region accounted for 90 per cent of guinea worm cases in the country adding that 2,429 cases were reported last year.

He said this year alone, 973 cases of the disease had already been reported in the region, noting that it was surprising these cases were coming from the urban areas where the people were aware of and knew what to do to prevent the infection.

He called on the district assemblies to enact a byelaw to make it an offence for people who had the disease to enter water sources to infect them.

Dr. Kyei-Fareid said many women lose their lives due to delays in decision-taking or inadequate facilities in the hospitals during childbirth.

He said last year alone, 91 maternal deaths were recorded in the region.

Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Northern Regional Minister in a speech read for him, said the incidence of guinea worm in the region was a matter of grave concern and urged the district assemblies to put in place interventions to help eradicate the disease.

He also called on the health administration to team up with the assemblies to improve sanitation in the communities, saying this would reduce the cost of managing malaria through the use of insecticides, treated bed-nets and drugs.

Alhaji Idris expressed satisfaction that the coverage of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the region was improving steadily with the Yendi District recording the highest coverage of 47.6 per cent.

He said East Mamprusi District followed with 42.7 per cent while Gushegu/Karaga District recorded the lowest coverage of 9.7 per cent.

The Regional Minister urged stakeholders in the scheme to provide the necessary support to enhance the coverage.

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