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03.04.2006 Health

Minister calls for collective responsibility towards health care

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Accra, April 3, GNA - Dr Gladys Norley Ashitey, Deputy Minister of Health, has called for a collective responsibility regarding the provision of health care to ensure that Ghana attained the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

"To attain this we need to step up collaboration efforts with key actors in the wider determinants of health, as a stronger health system alone though necessary, is not a sufficient condition for assuring sustained health outcomes for the nation," she said. She, therefore, requested that every individual played a special and significant role in ensuring that quality health care was available and accessible to all.

Dr Ashitey made the call at a press briefing on Monday, to highlight events on the World Health Day celebration, which falls on Friday April 7 2006, under the theme "Working together for Health". She said the official launching of the celebrations would be held at Kasoa in the Central Region, after which there would be series of radio and television discussions on selected health issues. The day has been set aside to acknowledge the immense contributions of health workers to human well being and also to highlight some important global and national issues on health for debate. Dr Ashitey said though Ghana had made tremendous progress regarding its health system, there were still numerous challenges such as the lack of human resources and proper collaboration with other stakeholders. "Currently there are inadequate number of trained human resources, mal-distribution of the few trained human resources, an imbalance skill mix of trained human resources for health and the issue of brain drain," she said.

She stated that though the current health worker-to-population ratio for all categories of health professionals fell below minimum standards but the Government had adopted various strategies to address the situation.

Dr Ashitey said facilities for the training of all categories of health workforce were being expanded, while Public-Private-Partnerships were also being encouraged to augment the efforts of the Government to meet the human resources for health requirements.

She also said the introduction of the deprived area incentive package was to attract health workers to rural and deprived areas and discourage the over-concentration in the southern belt of the country. "Incentives such as car loan schemes have been instituted, while a comprehensive salary scheme is also being initiated to help to stem the brain drain," she said.

She said the Government would increase the training of middle-level corps of health workers to correct the imbalances in the skill mix of the health sector workforce.

"In the past the training of human resources for health had generally focused on the high-level corps and this had created an imbalance in the skill mix of the health system, resulting in overburdened situations," she said. The Deputy Minister said the Government was also ensuring an upgrading of health facilities in rural and deprived areas to attract professionals and facilitate the equitable redistribution of the health workforce.

Dr Ashitey said the MOH would collaborate with other sectors including the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing; Ministry of Education and Sports; Ministry of Food and Agriculture; Ministry of Private Sector Development and president's Special Initiative and other Departments and Agencies to ensure effective health care delivery. Dr George Amofah, Director of Public Health of the Ghana Health Service, appealed to the Health Sector workforce to be patriotic and willing to sacrifice for the country.

He explained that the establishment of the West African College of Physicians and Surgeons was part of measures to address the career advancement concerns of the health sector workforce, which had led to the massive brain drain of health workers.

Dr Amofah said there was the need to intensify public education on environmental hygiene and also ensure the re-introduction of physical education into the school curriculum among other things as a way of ensuring good health for all.