Effective support services during pandemic: Role of health service administrators
A responsive, resilient and innovative health system of a country calls for well trained and committed professionals at the helm of affairs.
As such, these professionals must benefit from continuous professional development programmes to make them effective on the job, especially when handling new epidemiological trends, including a pandemic such as COVID-19.
In the health sector of Ghana, health service administrators (HSAs) play pivotal and managerial roles to support clinical care at various echelons of the health system.
It must be noted that health service administration /management is both a discipline and a profession.
It is a discipline because it is taught in the university and it is a profession because there is a career path to it.
Accordingly, after having pursued health service administration in the university, newly qualified HSAs go through one-year mandatory training on the job under the supervision of seasoned and practising HSAs.
The uniqueness of the HSAs in the health sector is that they are the only cadre of support staff who are required to have on-the-job (Housemanship) training before they qualify to be offered permanent appointments.
In Ghana, HSAs have specialised in various areas. For example, some are Chartered Logistics and Transport Managers, lawyers, academics and public procurement experts, to mention a few.
The Association of Health Service Administrators, Ghana (AHSAG) is the umbrella body for HSAs in the country.
Membership of the association, regardless of where the person works, are AHSAG members in the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, Teaching Hospitals, the public universities, quasi-government hospitals, faith-based health facilities, the National Blood Service and private health facilities.
In its bid to incessantly equip its members, the National Executive Council (NEC) of AHSAG organises annual continuous professional development (CPD) programmes which run concurrently with the association’s Annual General Meetings (AGMs).
The AHSAG CPD/AGM is hosted by the regional caucuses on a rotational basis.
This year, AHSAG heads for Kumasi in the Ashanti Region for its 44th AGM/CPD under the theme, “Effective management of support services during a pandemic: The role of health service administrators.”
The programme has been scheduled to take place at the Miklin Hotel in Kumasi from October 26-29, 2021 and it will be in two sessions, the scientific session meant for both AHSAG members and non-members as well as the AGM or business session meant for only members in good standing.
Interestingly, apart from one (Mr Abu Alhassan), all the facilitators for this year’s AHSAG AGM/CPD programme have been chosen from within the association to deliver lectures at the scientific session.
The topics to be treated in line with the conference theme, and the chosen facilitators are enumerated below.
"Achieving effective management of pandemics through efficient management of healthcare logistics," to be handled by the Deputy Director, Procurement -Ghana Health Service, Mr Paul Gawu, and "The role of effective transportation and transport management in managing pandemics" to be delivered by the Deputy Director of Transport -Ghana Health Service, Mr Abu Alhassan.
Other topics to be treated include "Towards efficient and safe deployment of human resources during pandemics" to be handled by the Executive Director- African Forum for Research and Education in Health Service (AFREhealth), Mrs Georgina Yeboah, and "Safe environment and sanitation practices and infection prevention during pandemics," to be delivered by the Municipal Director of Health Services, Ashaiman-
Ghana Health Service, Mrs Patience Ami Mamattah, while a former CEO of the Wenchi Methodist Hospital, Mr B.C.K. Botwe, will treat "Code of ethics and professional responsibilities of Health Service Administrators."
According to the President of AHSAG, Mr Fred Effah-Yeboah, who is also the Director of Administration for the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, the objectives of the upcoming AGM/CPD of the association include but not limited to sensitising HSAs to the importance of prudent management of healthcare logistics during pandemics.
It is also to ensure that HSAs understand and support infection prevention and control initiatives to forestall nosocomial infections and their accompanying medico-legal suits.
He added that the association would also launch its Institute of Health Administration and Management, while it makes a donation to a hospital in the Ashanti Region.
The association envisages that the Director -General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, will grace the occasion as the Special Guest of Honour.
This year’s AHSAG AGM/CPD coincides with the association’s elections, which is held every two years. The association will elect from within its membership persons to serve in the National Advisory Council and National Executive Committee to continue steering its affairs.
Indeed, if clinical care must be responsive to the needs of the people to reduce morbidity and mortality rates, then the support services must be provided effectively by healthcare managers like health service administrators.
Healthcare is teamwork and clinicians alone must not be overburdened with every aspect of saving lives.
It thus behoves HSAs to understand their role, especially during pandemics, and they must play those roles effectively for the ultimate benefit of the patients being served.
There is no better religion than humanity, so the AHSAG 2021 CPD must serve as the watershed for handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
To this end, I wish the members of the Association of Health Service Administrators, Ghana successful and resourceful deliberations at the next AGM/CPD Programme in Kumasi. The additional knowledge acquired at the programme must be used to improve the health system.