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06.05.2004 Health

President calls of private sector participation in health care delivery

By GNA

Accra, May 6, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday urged private investors to see themselves as strategic shareholders in the health care delivery in the country.

He said their share would enable the Government to focus its attention and resources on tackling the persistent burden of easily treatable diseases, which have exacted a heavy toll on the population. This was contained in a speech read for him by Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, at the inauguration of Multiplex Hospital to serve the Sakumono Community and its environs.

The establishment of the Hospital is the initiative of Dr William Essilfie, Chief Executive of the Hospital and his three other siblings. The Hospital has 60 beds including three Executive Wards, four Consulting Rooms, two Operating Rooms, Laboratory, X-ray/Mammography Department, Dispensary and General Diagnostic Centre. Services to be provided include general consultation and emergencies, obstetrics and gynaecology, ear, nose and throat, paediatrics, surgery, urology, orthopaedic and eye care.

President Kufuor noted that there was the need for the private sector to invest in special areas to provide highly technical and more sophisticated services.

"This does not mean that the Government intends to hand over its responsibility to the private sector but on the contrary, Government intends to involve the private sector in a more constructive way where we will take advantage of each other's strength to bring health care to Ghanaians."

The President expressed regret about the poor utilization of health facilities and said it was still below 0.5 per cent adding that one out of every three bed in a hospital lied idle for the whole year while at the same time patients were lying on the floor in some hospitals. He attributed this to the fact that services were not equitably distributed and had led to the marked regional and district disparities in resource availability and health outcomes.

"This is the main reason why we have developed and will continue to develop policies and guidelines to help us improve efficiency in health service delivery, he said.

He called on Ghanaians living abroad to come and invest in the health care services since there was the need for mass specialized care to provide needed referral services to reduce the burden of foreign medical bills on families and the national economy.

Dr Kweku Afriyie, Minister of Health, said for the partnership with the private sector to make an impact on the health status of Ghanaians there was need for cooperation at the planning and programme implementation stages.

He urged those in the private sectors to work hard to ensure that they took on the bulk of the outpatient services, which still remained a priority in the design and delivery of health interventions.

Dr Essilfie, who was trained at the Ghana Medical School and left Ghana for the United States in 1994, said during one of his trips to Ghana he realized the impact of the brain drain on health care delivery and decided to reverse the trend in his own small way.

He said he adhered to the President's call for Ghanaians living in the Diaspora to come home and participate in health care delivery and contribute their quota to the development of the nation.

Dr Essilfie appealed to his colleagues in the Diaspora to come home to contribute their quota to the development of the nation.

"Remember it was the tax payers' money that was used to train us in the medical school and we need to pay back."

He said the Hospital would organise a free medical screening for the residents of Sakumono and its environs on Saturday, May 8. 06 May 04

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