From left: The moderator, Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, with the members of panel, Nathaniel Otoo, Professor Richard Adanu, Dr Chris Atim and Akua Kwateng Addo
Panelists at a universal healthcare (UHC) forum in Accra have called on government to invest in the efficient running of primary healthcare (PHC) services in the country.
According to the panelists, the enhancement of PHC through adequate investment and policy implementation is the pathway to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in Ghana.
They were of the view that a strong PHC system to deliver essential health services, including preventive, palliative and curative care, would greatly improve the health outcomes for all Ghanaians.
Themed ‘Health For All- Primary Healthcare As A Pathway To Universal Health Coverage’, the forum was organised by Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) and moderated by Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Vice Chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).
It had stakeholder representatives from members of the ARHR network, the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, the African Health Economics and Policy Association, the National Health Insurance Authority, the Ghana Health Service and donor partners in attendance.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Vicky T. Okine, Executive Director of ARHR, explained that improving the quality of healthcare services leading to better healthcare outcomes remain a critical component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“Several ailments could be prevented if core interventions offered by PHC system- education on personal hygiene, improved nutrition, vaccination services, adequate clean water, family planning and treatment of common ailments and injuries are adequately improved,” she said.
Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), expressed the need for the GHS and its agencies to work collectively to strengthen and improve Ghana’s primary healthcare system.
“It goes without saying that about 90 percent of a community’s health needs can be met by a well-functioning primary healthcare system,” she said.
The Dean of the School of Public Health, Professor Richard Adanu, in his panel submission, acknowledged that the country has gone far with UHC, with about close to a half of the population accessing healthcare at the primary level with the NHIS.
He, however, disclosed the lack of coordination in the health system and policies, and advocated a process that would lead to consistency in the health system.
The Executive Director of the African Health Economics & Policy Association, Dr Chris Atim, in his remarks as a panelist highlighted the gap in policy coordination in the health sector.
He also called for streamlining of the policies for consistency in the implementation of primary healthcare services in the country.
Nathaniel Otoo, Chief Executive of the NHIA and a member of panel, called for the strengthening of healthcare financing for sustainable system.
He said financing healthcare in the country has been imperfect considering the issues regarding release of funds for the sector.
The Director of Health, Population and Nutrition Office, USAID, Akua Kwateng Addo, stated that accountability in the sector was paramount to its sustainability, emphasizing the need to make people in charge responsible for their actions, especially when it comes to dealing with critical issues like healthcare.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri