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06.11.2008 Health

Kufuor explains NHIS

By Daily Guide

President Agyekum Kufuor has announced government's new strategy that would ensure equitable distribution of human resources in the health sector to deprived areas.

This new strategy will include differentiated salaries and allowances for doctors and other health professionals.

As the guest speaker at the 50th annual general conference of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), themed GMA @50 (Ghana's health), the President said the new strategy is being adopted as appeals to the conscience of most medical personnel to accept posting to the rural areas has not been fruitful.

With a disparity in the salaries of doctors and other medical personnel who accept posting to the rural areas, it is hoped that health professionals will be motivated to move critical personnel to the rural and deprived areas of the country.

President Kufuor appealed to the association to try and inculcate in all its members to remember that “their calling is a missionary one for humanity and should be committed to being in the vanguard of the development of the nation wherever duty calls”.

He stated that despite the laudable initiatives and investments by government to make health delivery available to all, human resource shortage continues to plague the health sector.

Doctor- patient ratio stands at one doctor to 13,000 patients nationally, however in some parts of the country the situation is different. In the upper East Region one doctor is to 29,000 patients while in the Upper West, the ratio is one is to 44,000 with that of the Northern Region being one doctor to 90,000.

He also used the opportunity to explain the origin of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is being claimed by some political parties as their initiative and said that the Cash and Carry system and the free medical care system of the immediate post independence era had both failed to ensure that the citizenry gets access to quality health care.

The viable alternative, he revealed, was the National health Insurance Scheme which had been envisaged as far back as the early 1970s.

“So the current heated claims in the political arena about the origins of the system tend to be unnecessary and sometimes even puerile. The important thing is that, this government has launched the scheme very boldly.”

He was happy that over 50 percent of the national population is covered by the scheme within the short period of three years of its inception. “The objective must always be to ensure that nobody is denied service on basis of inequality and poverty.”

The Chief Justice, Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, who was the guest of honour of the function, congratulated the GMA for contributing to Ghana's health in the past 50 years.

She however urged members of the GMA not to resort to strike actions but rather engage government in the spirit of mutual respect and trust on the issue of salaries and better conditions of service stating that the judiciary does not resort to strike, “If we have managed to walk the road, I believe that you can”.

The Minister of Health, Major (Rtd) Courage Quashiega, who observed that there was a shortfall in health education in the country, proposed that the GMA should organise its members to write small booklets on the human vital organs in simple language to educate the public.

He intimated the ministries readiness to support in the publication of such booklets and said “let us make efforts to prevent diseases and acquire wisdom for the advancement of our country.”

Dr. E. Adom Winful, president of GMA complained that even though human resource is pivotal in administration of efficient health services they are stressed out and poorly paid.

He said negotiation for a review of the salaries of doctors in the country for some years has yielded no fruit even though the GMA has complied fully with all the demands of its employers.

“For how long can the association contain the frustration?”

Source: Daily Guide

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