ICT key for Universal Health Coverage 2030 Goal
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare says the Ghana Health Service has resolved to make the adoption and application of appropriate Information Communication Technology (ICT) a top priority as part of measures to maximize the country’s efforts to expand and deliver quality affordable health care to all people across the country irrespective of where they live or their economic background as envisaged under the Universal Health Coverage agenda prescribed as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Director General made the observation when he delivered his maiden address to a gathering of staff at an end of year staff durbar at the headquarters of the Ghana Health Service in Accra.
Universal Health Coverage is about making sure quality affordable and culturally relevant health care services are made available for all people at the point of their need. UHC is an essential part of the SDGs. The World Health Organization says, “Right now, at best only half of the world’s population has coverage for essential health services, and hundreds of millions of people cannot access the health services they need to stay healthy”. In Africa Ghana is one of the focus countries whose progress is being monitored towards the UHC 2030 goal.
While acknowledging the dwindling resource constraint the Health Service faces, Dr. Nsiah-Asare said since taking office as Director General earlier 2017, he made known his vision to use ICT innovations to improve the capture and sharing of information timely along the chain of health service delivery. ICT is also being adopted to improve consultation, referrals and emergency preparedness and response, as well as for decision-making and supervision. Similarly, the Health Service hopes to tackle issues of transparency and accountability, resource allocation and financial tracking through the application of ICT. These strategies he said, will go a long way to sustain and improve on the gains made in the health sector in Ghana.
He stated that despite numerous challenges encountered during the year, management and staff of the Service worked tirelessly around the clock, many of them risking their lives to make sure they provide the people with timely and appropriate health care including preventive, promotional, educational and medical services.
Dr. Nsiah-Asare used the occasion to thank the Ghanaian media for helping convey information on health to the public throughout the year and entreated them to show a lot more interest in highlighting the positive things in the health sector, and not to be overly-focused on only the negatives, noting that the two institutions need to work together to help the country achieve Universal Health Coverage.
The Director General had many words of gratitude for his Directors, all senior managers and the thousands of health workers across the country, especially those who work in hard to access communities for their commitment and selfless services to the country during the year. He further charged them to renew their spirit to do even more in 2018 pointing out that the population needs their services to stay healthy for productive work.
He acknowledged the critical contribution of Development Partners through technical and resource support and promised the commitment of the Government of Ghana to continue to forge cordial relationship with them for development.
Dr. Nsiah-Asare also seized the moment to announce plans to relocate the GHS headquarters to a new site in a move to make it possible to bring together all the units and divisions of the Health Service under one building to help resolve challenges in the current administration arrangement where many of the units are dotted across Accra and Tema due to lack of space at the headquarters building.
In her remarks, the Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Gloria Quansah-Asare called on all staff to be mindful that as providers of essential services nothing less than the best is expected of them hence they must learn to focus on the impact they are making rather than the challenges they face daily in the course of their duties. She reminded them with a quote from the “Book of Colossians” in the Bible Chapter 3:23-24, which says “And whatsoever you do, do it heartedly, as to the Lord and not to men”.
The end of year staff durbar also provided the platform for discussion on staff professional development and welfare. The day was also used to present awards to deserving headquarters staff for their hard work.