Two regions have held their annual review meeting to examine the previous year’s performance of the health sector in those regions. They are the Volta and Upper East regions.
From Ho, Mary Anane reports that the Volta Regional Director of Ghana Health Services (GHS), Dr Joseph Teye Nuertey, has expressed concern about the lack of specialists in the various health facilities in the region, stressing the issue was affecting the performance of the health directorate in the region.
He said currently specialists in the region consisted eight gynaecologists, 56 physicians and a paediatrician a situation, he observed, was not encouraging enough to provide quality health care for the people in the region.
According to him, the region has 37 public health nurses, 437 midwives, 29 non-practising midwives and 1,200 community nurses.
Postings to the region
Dr Nuertey said the issue had become more worrying with the refusal of some senior health professionals to accept postings to the region due to non-availability of decent accommodation.
He said although measures put in place to address the issue were yielding some results, municipal and district chief executives should also assist in providing decent accommodation for those specialists.
Dr Nuertey said the lack of commitment from some frontline staff members also contributed to the inability of the directorate to achieve its target.
He said some maternal healthcare indicators had dropped, stating that antenatal coverage dropped from 88 per cent in 2012 to 77.9 per cent in 2013.
Dr Nuertey said there was a decrease in stillbirths from 1.9 per cent (909) in 2012 to 1.8 per cent in 2013, adding that the directorate recorded 72 maternal deaths last year but the ratio reduced from 174 per 100,000 live births to 160.2 per 100,000 that year.
To address the weaknesses in the system, Dr Nuertey stated that the directorate would intensify supervision and monitoring at the district levels and also provide them with the necessary managerial and technical support.
The Director–General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, encouraged municipal and district chief executives to be part of the decision-making process to help set effective targets.
He observed that teenage pregnancy was common in the rural communities, and called on authorities of health facilities to team up with traditional leaders to declare zero tolerance for teenage pregnancy. He also urged traditional and political leaders to collaborate with health workers and make routine visits to health facilities to be informed about the progress or challenges of those institutions.
Building of three district hospitals
The Volta Regional Minister, Mr Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, said the government had concluded arrangements to award contracts for the construction of three district hospitals at Dambai, Kpassa and Adaklu Waya.
He said Community Health and Planning Services (CHPS) compounds would also be constructed in remote areas where health services were not accessible.
Addressing the meeting in Bolgatanga, the Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Daniel Syme, re-emphasised the government’s commitment to redouble efforts at the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on health, reports the GNA.
He said as the timeline for the attainment of the MDGs drew closer, the region needed to scale up interventions to reduce sanitation-related communicable and non-communicable diseases in the region.
He, therefore, charged municipal and district assemblies (MDAs) in the region and all MDAs to ensure that their composite district strategic plans adequately captured and resourced the implementation of all selected evidence-based health service and health-related interventions.
The meeting was held on the theme: “Scaling up maternal and newborn care innovations to achieve MDGs Four, Five and Six.”
He noted that some district assemblies had extended infrastructure to support facilities in hospitals and health centres, and indicated that the Talensi District Assembly had funded an emergency ward and an operating theatre as part of moves to upgrade the district health centre, while the Bongo District had funded an X-ray facility, a hospital’s kitchen and some rehabilitation works at the Bongo District Hospital.
Assemblies, other partners commended
Mr Syme commended all assemblies for supporting the training of nurses and midwives, and entreated them to increase the support for the training of more of such professionals to redouble the efforts of the health directorate at deploying midwives and nurses to CHPS zones.
He further commended health workers and the leadership of the GHS for the significant interventions for reducing institutional maternal mortality and improvement in neonatal survival rates, and gave assurance of the continuous support of the RCC and MDAs in achieving the MDGs.
He thanked UNICEF, the governments of Japan and Korea, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Comic Relief, DFID, UNFPA and other partners for supporting the region’s health initiatives and innovations.
Dr Koku Awoonor-Williams, Regional Director of Health Service, in an address, indicated that the RHD explored innovative community engagements to deal with some of the bottlenecks that militated against the optimisation of the health indicators and service outcomes.
He said key innovation was the introduction of the Motor King Ambulance Service initiated under the Ghana Health Intervention Programme (GHEIP) and the Sustainable Emergency Referral Care (SERC) to improve timeliness of maternal and newborn referral in particular and the reduction in inmaternal and newborn deaths.
Dr Awoonor-Williams said through the innovations, institutional maternal deaths reduced from 141 per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 111 per 100,000 live births in 2013 as a result of significant improvement in supervised deliveries from 91.5 per cent in 2011 to 95.2 per cent in 2013 and newborn death reduced from 174 in 2012 to 148 in 2013.