08.01.2008 Health

Health sector faces major financial challenges - Amofa

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Dr. George Amofa, Deputy Director General of the Ghana Service says financing the health sector to scale up health services in the country has been a major challenge for the sector.

Leading a panel discussion on Monday on "Promoting Health for All: The Challenges" at the on-going New Year School at the University of Ghana, Dr. Amofa said added to the problem of finances was the inappropriate administrative and attitudinal issues which left much to be desired and as such a hindrance to promoting health for all.

"Despite the galaxy of very skilful health workforce, we have to admit that there has been laxity and poor planning and management of health services here and there, especially in the districts level where the action is," he said.

He said an estimated per capita health expenditure of 40 US dollars in 2015 was needed for scaling up priority health interventions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), however, potential available resources to the health sector for the same period is estimated around 16.5 US dollars.

The World Health Organization (WHO) clearly defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Dr. Amofa said the problem of ageing workforce and the brain drain had resulted in inadequacy in numbers, skill mix and distribution with a doctor patient ratio of 1:9,090, nurses 1:1,538 and pharmacists 1:13,373.

He said Ghana had adopted a holistic concept of health delivery and operating a well organized decentralized health service administration and service provision.

There were roughly about 2262 health facilities of various types and ownership as at 2005 with 49.1 per cent belonging to the government, 40.1 per cent to the private sector, 8.1 per cent to the Christian Health Association of Ghana and 2.1 per cent to quasi government.

Mr Kwaku Asante Krobea, General Secretary of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association, touching on the Nurses Perspective, said the country was in a global nursing workforce crisis, one characterized by intensifying shortage of highly skilled cadres thus undermining efforts to achieve quality nursing care.

He said other challenges faced by nurses and other health professionals include non-recognition of nurses as professionals, inadequate compensation and equipment for nurses to work with.

Mr. Asante Krobea said in all these, it was the patient that suffered and called for a more collaborative effort among health professionals in their interdisciplinary approach to patient care.

To fill the yawing quality assurance gap in service delivery, he said nurses could make significant improvement if the enabling environment was created.

He said policy makers must act positively to ensure positive practice environment where innovative policy framework will address caregiver recruitment and retention through continuous upgrading, recognition and sufficient equipment and supplies to work with.

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