Accra, July 9, GNA – Dr Alfred Tia Sugri, Deputy Minister of Health (MOH), says West African countries should allocate up to 15 per cent of their budgetary funds to the health sector as stipulated in the ECOWAS Commission.
‘There is the need to train more qualified medical personnel to extend quality health care service as well as allocate more budgetary funds and other sources of funds to the health sector in all the West African countries,’ he said.
Dr Sugri, speaking at the 27th Anniversary of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) on Wednesday in Accra, said the current Ebola Virus epidemic spreading through West Africa was a clear example of the importance of the existence of WAHO.
They day, jointly celebrated with West African Health Sector Unions Network (WAHSUN) was on the theme, ‘Universal Health Coverage: Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities’.
WAHO was established by ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in 1987 with the mission to attain ‘the highest possible standard and protection of health of the people in the sub-region through harmonisation of the policies of member states and pooling of resources for a collective strategic combat against health problems afflicting the sub-region.”
The current situation, Dr Sugri said, was an indication of the urgent need for strengthening policy development and supporting the capacity of WAHO to deepen its coordination function and foster technical assistance to individual countries.
Dr Sugri said the attempt to extend healthcare coverage to entire populations in many African countries dated back to the struggle for independence and that idea was enshrined in the constitution of most African countries after independence, yet the challenge had always been the cost of financial and human resources.
He noted that in Ghana, the Ghana Health Service and Teaching Hospitals Act of 1995 and the National Health Insurance Act of 2012 provided the legal framework for the attainment of universal healthcare coverage.
‘The laws seek to foster organisational and financial arrangements for the attainment of universal healthcare coverage.
‘As we promote free movement within the ECOWAS region we must also facilitate community level collaboration particularly among border communities across different countries. Such collaboration between border communities could be crucial for the attainment of universal healthcare coverage in West Africa,” he said.
He, therefore, congratulated WAHO for its remarkable achievement since its establishment 27 years ago and assured the organization of Ghana’s preparedness to work closely with member countries to ensure quality healthcare for the people within the sub-region.
Dr Xavier Crespin, Director General, in a speech read for him, said the day was a tribute to the noble vision of the ECOWAS Heads of state and Government.
He said WAHO continued to be a proactive tool for regional integration in health for the development and implementation of high impact interventions and programmes within the community through capacity building; data collection; evaluation and dissemination; promoting cooperation and coordination, among other things.
He said beyond celebrating the ideals which inspired the Heads of state and Government to establish WAHO, the commemoration offered a platform to draw attention of member states and the international community to major sub-regional health challenges, for greater resource mobilisation.
Dr Crespin said the theme was a wake-up call for implementation of appropriate strategies that would ensure that the health systems contributed to equity and social justice.
‘To achieve this goal, we must chart a proper path for our health systems and strike the right balance between the justifiable health expectations of the populations and the current situation in the sub-region. This is certainly one of the major challenges for our sub-region.
‘Today, more than ever before, we must continue to strive to pool our energies together through cooperation, solidarity and watchfulness to achieve our common goal.
‘At a time when many of our countries are grappling with epidemics in general, especially the outbreak of the Ebola Haemorragic Fever, we would once again like to draw attention to the preventive measures recommended by WAHO, and hereby express our solidarity and sympathies with the hard-hit populations,’ he said.
Mr Abu D. Kuntulo, General Secretary of Health Services Workers’ Union of TUC-Ghana. said WAHSUN had deemed it fit to propose the joint WAHO Day Celebration as part of its commitment to the provision of quality and affordable healthcare services for the people of Ghana and the sub-region.
He said since the formation of WAHSUN on November 9, 2007 in Abuja, Nigeria, it had adopted a number of declarations, communiques, memoranda and resolutions that focused on health sector reforms, poor working conditions, occupational safety and health issues.
‘In line with our working class solidarity principles, culture and tradition, the Health Workers’ Union of TUC-Ghana and the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria had extended and continue and to extend solidarity assistance to their sister health unions in Liberia and Sierra Leone respectively,’ he said.
Mr Kuntulo said as a network that was poised to work with like-minded organisations in the health sector, WAHSUN last year recruited a research officer to study and produce a research document on WAHO that would serve as a tool to forging close working relationship with that organisation to ensure collaboration and cooperation between the two bodies.
He called on the Government and its agencies to ensure that the needed resources were assembled in preparation for Ebola outbreak in Ghana.
‘We also want our Government to as a matter of priority scale up our national budgetary allocation within the health sector to the 15 per cent in line with the Abuja Declaration of 1989 if we are to achieve universal health coverage for all beyond 2015.
‘We want to call on all health care providers across the country to observe simple but necessary hygiene processes at all facility level to prevent the Ebola infection and its related conditions,’ he said.
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