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Govt recruits 54,000 health workers

BY: Doreen Andoh
Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu
Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu

The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has said 54,892 health professionals in the health service delivery value chain will be employed by the close of this year.

He said the decision followed financial clearance given by the government for their engagement.

The Health Minister said the number included a backlog of professionals from 2012 to 2016 and private trainees.

From 2012 to 2018, a ban was placed on employment for economic reasons and it resulted in a huge backlog of health professionals who were unemployed because they had been bonded and were not eligible to seek jobs elsewhere.

Meet-the press

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Taking his turn at the meet-the-press series in Accra yesterday, Mr Agyeman-Manu assured health professionals who had not yet been employed that their employment was a priority on the government’s agenda and that it would gradually ensure that they all got employed.

“The ministry has launched an electronic platform to facilitate the recruitment and placement of staff in health facilities,” he said.

The minister used the platform to inform the public about some major reforms the government had introduced towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage, the delivery of world standard health services and improving health management.

He also outlined the achievements and challenges of the ministry.

“We have to do this gradually because the numbers are huge. Considering the cries of private institutions-trained health professionals to benefit from public-sector posting over the years, for the first time in the history of this country we have included majority of them in our list and have obtained financial clearance to employ them. But, please, bear with us to do it gradually,” he said.

On human resource development, Mr Agyeman-Manu said the government had restored the allowance for nurses in Ministry of Health training institutions and that currently 57,000 trainees were benefiting, at a cost of GH¢20.4 million a month.

He said 100 per cent of total commitment, amounting to GH¢210.8 million for the 2017-2018 academic year, had been paid, while seven months of the 2018/2019 academic year had also been paid.

“Warrant for GH¢57.8 million has been released for the payment of the rest of the months,” he explained.

Supply Chain reforms

Mr Agyeman-Manu said the government had introduced a number of reforms within the healthcare delivery system, comprising three components, namely: logistics management information system, warehousing and last mile distribution of health commodities.

He said the rolling out of a new logistic management system was to ensure better management of healthcare supplies and improve health commodity management.

He said it would be operational in the first week of June 2019.

He explained that the last mile distribution of health commodities component made room for negotiation on the prices and quality of medicines.

Based on that, he said, the ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding on the framework for distributing essential medicines and related services with some agencies.

“Ghana has already achieved remarkable results in its healthcare supply chain and will soon reach 100 per cent availability of commodities,” he stated.

He said the reforms included the drone delivery system, which would support the last mile distribution component of the reforms by filling the gaps and reducing stock-outs between deliveries.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said Zipline, in collaboration with the MoH, had developed a full quality assurance system.

NHIS revamped

He said the government had revamped the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and described it as its strategy to achieve financial access to quality health care.

He said the government had paid claims to the tune of GH¢2.2 billion since 2017, adding that measures were being put in place to ensure that claims were paid promptly.

He warned medical officials who were undermining the NHIS by politicising the scheme and refusing to attend to card holders to desist from doing so or face the wrath of the law.

“As a result of the efficiency gains, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is in a position to increase service tariffs by 20 per cent this year. The new tariffs came into effect on April 1, 2019,” he said.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said the NHIA had introduced an electronic receipting system for 43 district offices and preparations were being made to replicate it nationally.

He said monitoring reports indicated that those offices had improved tremendously in premium collection and accountability, while revenue had increased by 33 per cent in some regions including Central, Western, Eastern, Volta and Oti.

The electronic-renewal system (E-renewal), another reform, had led to a complete transformation of the NHIS enrolment process, he added.

“Benefits include increased renewal numbers within four months of implementation, with revenue from E-renewal constituting 41 per cent of the first quarter 2019 revenues,” he stated.

“The strengthening of clinical audit has resulted in the recovery of GH¢28.4 million for over-billing of claims,” he added.

Health management information systems

Mr Agyeman-Manu said to improve healthcare delivery, the ministry was developing a National Data Centre and electronic medical records for the health sector. 

He said the system had been piloted successfully in the Central Region and that 28 health facilities were currently using the application.

“Capabilities include bio surveillance to improve early detection of outbreaks. The system is being deployed now at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi,” he said.

Preventive services

On disease management and prevention, the minister said Ghana had made significant strides, including 97.47 per cent national childhood immunisation coverage in 2018.

He said all childhood vaccine requirements for 2019 had been secured; there had been no reported case of polio since 2008, no documented measles associated death in Ghana since 2003, a reduction in diarrhoea since the introduction of rotavirus vaccine in 2012, no meningitis outbreak this year and there was also a near elimination of yellow fever and polio.