Koforidua, Feb 17, GNA - Mr Gustav Narh Dometey, the Acting Deputy Eastern Regional Minister, has expressed the appreciation of the government to health workers who have rejected the temptation of seeking greener pastures abroad and have stayed to serve the country.
"It is my hope and prayer that you would hold firm to your conviction and endeavour to work harder than before for the good of Ghana our motherland", he said.
Mr Dometey was speaking at the opening of the Ghana Health Service Senior Managers 2004 Performance Review Meeting and Regional Awards for the Eastern Region at Koforidua on Wednesday.
The three-day meeting is being held under the theme ''Strengthening maternal and child health through partnership with community and quality care".
Mr Dometey the government had decided to make health delivery services, including caesarean section, free of charge with effect from February, this year.
Mr Dometey explained that the government hoped to enhance the well being of mothers and children.
Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyirah, the Eastern Regional Director of Health Service, said during the year under review the region recorded 20 per cent reduction in maternal mortality.
The region also recorded 18.9 per cent reduction in childhood related deaths from 950 recorded in 2003 to 770 in 2004. The main causes of death of children under five years had been malaria, accounting for 49.6 per cent of such cases.
He said the region recorded an increase in the HIV prevalence rate to 4.6 per cent and suggested that an integrated strategy should be discussed by all stakeholders and adopted under the leadership of the Regional Minister, The plan should be monitored quarterly by the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) and the District Assemblies.
Dr Appiah-Denkyirah said the region recorded a reversal in the staff attrition rate as more staff decided to stay and the region also attracted more medical staff than those who left during the year under review.
He explained that the region was able to achieve that feat through a "one-to-one base" recruitment and provision of incentive packages. Dr Appiah-Denkyirah said this year the Regional Health Administration would introduce quota allocation of admission into the nurses training colleges.
He appealed to the RCC to encourage district assemblies to take advantage of the scheme to train and retain medical staff from their districts as part of their preparedness to cope with the Health Insurance Scheme.