A number of interventions by some collaborating agencies in the Central Region is helping to reduce poverty and reverse the Region's position as the fourth poorest in the country.
Mr Isaac Edumadze, Regional Minister, announced this at a "meet the press" series in Cape Coast on Wednesday to brief the media on the state of affairs in the Region.
He mentioned tourism and investment promotion, agriculture, private sector and human resource development as some of the interventions, adding that the Region was on the threshold of achieving its objective of "promoting integrated development".
Other interventions at poverty reduction he said were the linking of potential local investors such as fish processors with funding sources and the organization of district trade fairs to promote enterprise development.
On agriculture the Minister said the cultivation of non-traditional crops like cashew, black pepper and pineapples had been given a boost in the Region to help raise the income of farmers and gave the assurance that Ghana's access to the Millennium Challenge Account would facilitate the modernization of agriculture to increase productivity. According to him, agro-processing would also be vigorously pursued to help check post harvest losses.
He touched on road construction and rehabilitation, electricity and water supply and telecommunications and said all such services were being improved to meet the demands of customers.
The minister repeated calls on district assemblies to enforce their bylaws on the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) to compel all parents to send their kids to school and said a number of school projects were being undertaken with funds from the GETFund. On health, Mr Edumadze expressed concern that the doctor-patient ratio in the Region was one to 30,000 and stressed that the lack of surgeons and other specialists had forced the Region to refer most of its cases to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Mr Edumadze said his office and the Regional Health Administration were evolving measures to retain health personnel as well as ensure that a paediatrician and a physician were posted to the Region. He was unhappy about the low amount of premium paid for the National Health Insurance Scheme and said only 8.4 percent of the 23.4 percent registered persons had fully paid their premium, amounting to 1.6 billion cedis.
Questions put to the Minister ranged from the progress of work on a new stadium in the Region as part of Ghana's preparations towards hosting the African Cup of Nations in 2008, the rehabilitation of the ministries' block in Cape Coast, the Town Hall, employment opportunities and allegations about policemen's demand for the payment of monies before granting bail to suspects.
Mr Edumadze gave the assurance that work on the new stadium was on course, while work on the Town Hall, which was being undertaken at a cost of 758 million cedis but was suspended due to the lack of funds would soon re-commence.
Reacting to concerns about reported demands for monies before granting bail the Regional Police Commander, Mrs Rose Atinga Bio said it was illegal and asked the public to report any police officer who made such demands.
She cautioned, however, that any member of the public who paid any such monies would also be considered as a guilty party.