Help govt fix discrepancies in doctor, patient ratio

BY: Naa Lamiley Bentil
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (2nd left) joined by Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu (2nd right), and Dr Frank Ankobea (middle) to cut the anniversary cake. Also in the picture is Mr Eric Kwakye Dafour (right), the Eastern Regional Minister
Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (2nd left) joined by Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu (2nd right), and Dr Frank Ankobea (middle) to cut the anniversary cake. Also in the picture is Mr Eric Kwakye Dafour (right), the Eastern Regional Minister

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has called on all stakeholders to help the government to address the discrepancies in the country's doctor-to-patient ratio.  

The Vice President said specific to the perennial rural-urban discrepancy was the low national doctor-to-patient ratio of one doctor to about 8000 patients, a situation that had fallen short of the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ratio of one doctor to 1,320 patients.

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Dr Bawumia said the government was committed to the advancement of the Community-based Health Planning Service (CHPS) Compound concept to enhance health delivery, especially in deprived areas.

Addressing the opening session of the 60th annual general conference of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) in Koforidua last Friday, Dr Bawumia said the government would continue with the construction of health and ancillary infrastructure throughout the country to enhance the work and living conditions of medical practitioners.

However, he stated, infrastructure alone could not deliver health care, saying that it required that health professionals and medical practitioners met the government half way in their expectations.


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Dr Bawumia indicated that the health sector alone accounted for 15 per cent of the annual national budget, adding that 70 per cent of that outlay went into emoluments, leaving only 30 per cent for capital and infrastructure projects.

NHIS

Touching on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the Vice President said the NHIS, which was a beneficial social intervention initiative and a major poverty alleviation tool, was on the brink of collapse in early 2017 when the government came to office.

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He said the NHIS had suffered great neglect and blatant mismanagement and that the government inherited a suffocating debt of about GH¢1.2 billion with service providers threatening to revert to the cash and carry policy.

However, he said, with prudent management in the last 21 months, debt owed from 2014 to 2017 had been cleared and the government was on course to meet its obligations to service providers in 2018.

He commended the GMA for being prominent and influential in the health administration and healthcare delivery in Ghana through numerous initiatives and interventions in its 60 years of existence.

Commitment

The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said the government had over the years shown commitment to work tirelessly to ensure the achievement of universal health coverage for Ghanaians.

He said currently, the ministry had embarked on measures, including the introduction of the e-receipt and e-renewal, to ensure the sustainability of the NHIS.

He further indicated that the NHIS had been granted prosecutorial powers by the Attorney General’s Department to address some fundamental issues confronting the scheme.

Mr Agyemang Manu said the ministry was working towards the institution of free postgraduate training for all medical officers pursuing specialist programmes to improve upon quality of care and also to strengthen primary healthcare services.

Health workers

The President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Frank Ankobea, bemoaned the inequitable distribution of critical healthcare staff, with the result that most deprived communities in Ghana did not have the desired standard health care.

He, therefore, called on the government and other major stakeholders to consider introducing incentive packages to attract and retain doctors in deprived areas.

He said the association in its 60 years history had done a lot to shape the health landscape of the country through annual public lectures and general conferences.

The Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Eric Kwakye Darfour, said the 60 years of the GMA should signify the time of rebirth and greater works ahead.

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