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13.03.2006 Health

Commonwealth urged to address exodus of health workers

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Accra, March 13, GNA - Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Monday underscored the need for the Commonwealth to cooperate and adopt policies to reverse or halt the exodus of health workers from developing countries to the developed ones. He said the growing shortage of trained health personnel was a major threat to most health institutions in developing countries and many had lost significant number of health workers through migration to countries of greener pastures.

Speaking at the launch of the 2006 Commonwealth Day, on the theme: "Health and Vitality, the Commonwealth Challenge" in Accra, Nana Akufo-Addo said the Commonwealth must tackle as a priority, measures to reverse the migration of health workers. Facilities and schemes must be established that would enable both the developed and the developing world to protect their health systems. The Commonwealth Day, which is celebrated by 53-member independent countries most of which were former British Colonies, marked a period of reflecting on the core values of the organisation, taking stocks of achievements and strategising to meet the ever-increasing challenges. The organisation with 1.7 billion people formed a third of the world's population.

The Association strongly upholds some fundamental values such as the rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights, peace, justice, cooperation and sustainable development, which member States are constantly urged to exhibit. Nana Akufo-Addo said, "Ghana sets great store by her membership of the Commonwealth and reaffirms her commitment to those shared values, indeed these are the values and principles on which the Constitution of the Fourth Republic is built. "We cherish our membership because we see there is goodwill within the Association to support each other and work towards the realisation of certain agreed goals with the advancement of human conditions being the preoccupation", he said.

The Foreign Minister said the Government was determined to institute measures to make health services more accessible and humane for the generality of the people. "The National Health Insurance Scheme, one of the most ambitious programmes of social reform in our history will resolve many of the problems relating to delivery of health care", he said. Nana Akufo-Addo admitted that although the implementation of the scheme had been hindered by some administrative drawbacks, the Government was determined to ensure its effective running to cater for the health needs of the population, especially the poor and the vulnerable and to make the fight against HIV/AIDS and Malaria a success.

Mr Allie Bangura, Representative of the Commonwealth High Commissioners, said the Commonwealth continued to be an active force in global affairs, promoting peace and justice and helping to build consensus in international politics. He said the Association collectively tackled challenges as scourge of terrorism, third world indebtedness and growing imbalance of trade that beset member countries. Mr Bangura noted that the theme for this year's celebration focussed on the relevance of health as highlighted by the United Nation Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. The goals set out a commitment to reduce poverty; tackle ill health, lack of access to education and clean water; halt environmental degradation and engender gender equality.

Mr Bangura observed that some aspect of the goals were important to the Commonwealth as two thirds of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS the world over were Commonwealth citizens and nine of the most heavily infected countries were alsomembers of the Commonwealth. In addition seven Commonwealth countries are among the 20 countries with the highest maternal mortality rate and 60 per cent maternal deaths are in Commonwealth countries.