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12.10.2005 Health

Accessing healthcare in Northern Region, a nightmare - Dr Sory

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Tamale, Oct. 12, GNA - It is a nightmare to access healthcare in the Northern Region because of the long distances a patient has to travel and the poor road network, Dr Elias Sory, the Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has stated in Tamale on Tuesday. "As a result of the long distances one has to travel to access healthcare and the poor state of the roads, people are dying, including health workers, who are serving in the remote areas of the Region", he said.

Equipment in most of the health institutions were either old or broken down, while infrastructure was poor, he added. Dr Sory said there were only four qualified District Health Directors manning the 18 districts, while there were currently only 28 doctors instead of the 64 needed in the region, adding, "The situation is even more acute with nurses". He said the problem with the health sector had been that, doctors after completion of their course leave for greener pastures abroad, a situation, which had impacted negatively on healthcare delivery in the country.

The Regional Director was briefing students from the International College of London, who had paid a courtesy call on the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface on the constraints and challenges facing the health sector in the region. The students are on a tour of Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Angola to assess the current world situation and encourage more understanding of international relations.

Rear Admiral Roger Lockwood of UK Royal Navy, head of the students, said the visit would help the students to understand the Ghanaian situation and advocate support for the country. Former British Prime Minister, Sir Wilson Churchill, established the College in 1930, whose objective is: "Making the world a better place to live to work".

The students asked questions on governance, infrastructure development, education, health, security and the roles of government and chieftaincy and their impact on the people. Dr Sory said environmental related diseases; especially malaria was the major cause of child mortality in the region, while there was a resurgence of yaws and syphilis.

Alhaji Boniface told the students that the region was endowed with natural resources including tourist attractions and arable land suitable for the cultivation of rice, cashew, mango, maize, yam, cassava and sugar cane.

He said the region was the "food basket" of the country in the 70's but regretted that land, religious, chieftaincy and intra-ethnic conflicts had eroded the gains of the region. He noted that the Dagbon chieftaincy crisis, which led to the death of Ya-Na, Yakubu Andani II, had become a major problem causing uneasy calm in the area. The Regional Minister was of the view that not until the Ya-Na was buried, the region would never know peace, describing the prevailing peace as "uneasy calm". He called on development partners for support to reconcile the people to get the King buried.

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