Reduce unbudgeted spending to avoid waste in health sector

The Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey, has called on health professionals to cut down on unbudgeted spending to help in avoiding waste in the health sector.

She called on them to help in working at harnessing the little resources the sector got from the government, as well as the dwindling donor support.

The minister made the call at the opening of a five-day health summit organised in Accra yesterday.

The 2014 Health Summit, which was on the theme: “Working together towards quality healthcare for all in Ghana,” was to ascertain the extent to which programmes and activities planned in the 2013 programme of work were implemented and the extent to which targets of the sector were met.

  Financial management
“In the area of financial management, I want to observe that the Ministry of Health has been noted to have one of the best financial management systems within the public sector.

“This notwithstanding, I have some concerns about the level of unbudgeted expenditure within the system and lack of data in timely manner.

“I have initiated steps at the headquarters level to ensure that as much as possible, we spend only what we have budgeted for. I will entreat all heads of agencies and the budget and management centres to follow the same principles,” Ms Ayittey said.

According to her, it was becoming increasingly evident that the future of health in the country would be determined not by huge sums spent on drugs and health infrastructure, “but primarily by efforts to manage the external factors and the limited resources available.”

  Devolution in the health sector
Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, who spoke on decentralisation in the health sector, said the sector had only decentralised by way of deconcentration and delegation.

He said the programme had not devolved authority; creating a situation where officials at the district levels were not under the control of local authorities as required under Article 240 (2) (d) of the 1992 Constitution.

Explaining Ghana’s decentralisation process, he said it took the form of devolution, which transferred both authority and responsibility to the district assemblies.

He said although decentralisation in the health sector was stopped under the Local Government Service Act, 2003  (Act 656), a policy decision since 2012 had been taken to restore it to decentralisation.

With devolution in the health sector, Prof. Ahwoi said the district level health sector was required to respond and report to the district assemblies.

He said decentralisation was a constitutional imperative and not a political party’s ideology or manifesto promise.

Prof. Ahwoi said there were challenges in health sector devolution, but indicated that they were not insurmountable “if we put our minds to it and work together.”

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