General News of Sunday, 12 March 2017
Stakeholders in the health sector have expressed worry about the proliferation of unqualified health personnel in health facilities, saying the situation is a major setback to the quality of healthcare delivery.
They have, therefore, called on the Ministry of Health (MoH) to take pragmatic steps to strengthen and enforce existing regulations to sanitise the system.
The issue took centre stage at a symposium organised by Nyaho Medical Centre in Accra yesterday to discuss innovative ways by which the barriers to quality health care could be removed in the country.
Participants in the public forum included officials from the Mental Health Authority (MHA), National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), civil society organisations (CSOs) and other players in the health sector.
Call on MoH
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the MHA, Dr Akwasi Osei, stressed that the prudent thing to do to address the challenge of unprofessional practitioners was for the MoH to take steps to strengthen existing regulations.
“The MoH is not doing enough. Even though it has established regulatory bodies for almost all sectors of health care, such as the Medical and Dental Council (MDC), Nurses and Midwives Council (NMC) and Allied Health Council (AHC), it has not done enough in terms of enforcement.
“What all the regulatory bodies are saying is that if someone is a quack in the system, they are not supposed to register them. The laws must be modified such that the regulatory bodies can take punitive action against practising non-professionals by initiating legal processes against them,” he said.
He said the existing laws ought to be modified to give the regulatory bodies legal teeth to bite and fish out quacks in the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Dr Osei further observed that there had been issues of wrong diagnosis in health facilities because of the activities of unqualified personnel or “half-baked practitioners”, stressing that there was the need for such people to be identified and trained to improve their effectiveness.
Touching on the issue, the Director of Claims at the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, said it was important to draw a clear distinction between qualified medical doctors, faith-based healers and other healthcare providers as a measure to regulate the services they provide.
She further said it was important for health professionals to keep proper records, especially those on patients’ history, so that proper, consistent and reliable diagnosis could be made.
Dr Dsane-Selby underscored the need to take a second look at the country’s disease burden to update the list of diseases that are captured by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
She said the government had constituted a committee to review the NHIS system to reflect the disease burden, adding that; “The idea is to move towards a comprehensive primary healthcare regime.”
A Consultant Neurologist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Dr Albert Akpalu, said improving quality healthcare delivery hinged on attitudinal change by all stakeholders in the health sector.
He said effective collaboration, team work and partnerships at all levels played an integral role in improving the quality of health care.
“In an era of globalisation, more attention ought to be paid to education, research and the provision of the right equipment, as well as the right form of leadership, so that all forms of bottlenecks to improved health care will be removed,” he said.
The Managing Director of Nyaho Medical Centre, Dr Elikem Tamaklo, observed that patient safety and clinical effectiveness ought to be prioritised to improve health care.
He said innovation meant finding solutions to problems using the right technology, adding that; “To improve quality of health care, we need to imbibe innovation through broader stakeholder collaboration.
“Talking about quack doctors in the system, I believe that if we deploy the right technology and innovation, the system will identify those who are doing the right thing and catch up with non-professionals.”