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Health Minister wants greater private sector participation in healthcare delivery

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Hon Ayittey and Dr. Steve Manteaw of ISODECAccra, July 24, 2013 - The Minister of Health, Hon. Hanny-Sherry Ayittey is urging the private sector and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to partner government in the provision of quality and affordable healthcare in Ghana.

“The private sector is not helping government to support social programmes,” she noted, adding that the individual businesses can support government by establishing specialized hospitals to render top-notch services.

Hon. Sherry Ayittey made these assertions when representatives of CSOs in health presented a communique on healthcare financing to her on Tuesday, July 23. The communique, which was adopted by 23 CSOs in health, proposed that the government meets its Abuja Declaration pledge of at least 15 per cent expenditure on healthcare in order to make progress in the health related Millennium Development Goals.

The CSOs were the MamaYe Campaign, Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights, ISODEC, Send Ghana, Health Foundation of Ghana, and the Mission of Grace Ministries among others. Leader of the group, Dr. Steve Manteaw, admonished the government to reaffirm its commitments to funding healthcare, in particular maternal and newborn health, and the efficient management of funds for the sector.

The Minister welcomed the contents of the communique and assured that her outfit will review it and take on board the necessary suggestions stated there in. She underscored the need for a vibrant civil society base that will consistently play its role as the “third eye” to check the excesses of government programmes so as to ensure accountability.

She further revealed that government has set up a secretariat intended to accredit all public and private health institutions in order to regulate the quality of services provided and the cost of healthcare. This, she said, was important in ensuring that healthcare delivery was not taken for granted.Hon. Sherry Ayittey (middle) with representatives of Civil Society Organisations

On alternative financing sources for the sector, Hon. Sherry Ayittey stated that her ministry is prepared to suggest ways to cabinet on how best to close the gap in funding health services.

She indicated that only about 900,000 people are currently making social security contributions, which means a great number of people in the informal sector must also be roped in to ensure that there is a large pool of resources to fund the NHIS.

CSOs, according to her, must put more premium on regenerative health matters geared towards encouraging citizens to adopt holistic healthy lifestyles.

“CSOs must begin to advise the public about their lifestyles…It is the responsibility of government to ensure that we absorb all social risks but we must educate people about their lifestyles,” she said.

MamaYe is a campaign initiated by Evidence for Action (E4A), a multi-year programme which aims to improve maternal and newborn survival in sub-Saharan Africa. Funded by the UK Department for International Development, the campaign focuses on using a strategic combination of evidence, advocacy and accountability to save lives in Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.