29 November 2011

Ghana: Social Interventions in 2012

The Vice President, John Dramani Mahama has announced that the government would in 2012 introduce more social interventions to propel growth and human development in the country.

He said the introduction of the Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GETFund) and the the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) had helped in moving Ghana into the medium human development category, positioning the country at 135 out of 187 countries.

The Vice President was speaking at the launch of the 2011 Anglophone Africa Global Human Development Report (HDR), with the theme: "Sustainability and Equity; A better Future for All".

The report addresses the integral links between long-term environmental protection and greater social equality.

It identifies many positive national policy models that offers ways for countries and the world community to promote environmental sustainability and equity simultaneously.

Mr. Mahama reiterated the government's commitment towards ensuring equity in human development in the country and said the government will invest in education to ensure that accessibility becomes less difficult in the entire country.

He called for collaboration among stakeholders to enable the government achieve its development goals.

The Vice President acknowledged the contributions of past governments towards the development of micro-economic programmes to reduce poverty among vulnerable groups and communities.

The Report indicated a significant increase in Ghana's Human Development Index (HDI) value from 0.385 to 0.541, registering an increase of 40 percent or an annual increase of about 1.1 per cent between 1980 and 2011.

It also acknowledged the tremendous increase in Ghana's life expectancy at birth which currently stood at 11.1 years between the years 1980 to 2011.

Mr. Mahama indicated that though much had been achieved, there was the need to move faster in order to attain the highest growth required.

He called for positive attitudes from the public sector towards ensuring environmental sustainability which had been identified a critical ingredient for eliminating climate change challenges.

"Climate change is real and is affecting access to various natural resources including fresh water, pasture for animals as well as crop yields leading to hikes in food prices" he said.

He said though developing countries could not chart the same course as the developed countries in reducing climate change, "we must be vigilant on efforts towards the reduction of pressure of human existence on land and chart a course for green development".

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator Ms. Rebecca Grynspan said Ghana was chosen to host the launch on behalf of Anglophone Africa because of its achievements and commitment to sustainable development.

She said all the gains made over the years could be lost if people did not act responsibly towards the sustainability of their environment.

She called for a total halt to environmental degradation and the closure of the inequity gaps that existed between the rich and poor vulnerable groups.

Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, acknowledged the timeliness of the report, saying it offered important contributions to seek global action on safeguarding the future of the planet and the right of future generations everywhere to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

She said human development must no longer remain a national issue but rather a global effort to chart comprehensive, collaborative and sustainable steps to reduce both environmental risks and inequalities globally.

...In another development, Ghana has hosted the 1st Pan Africa congress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The congress included government ministers, stakeholders and health experts from 50 Africa countries to dialogue and provide measures to strengthen and expand health insurance schemes and equity of health care across Africa.

Mr. John Dramani Maham, the vice president, during the opening ceremony of the congress said, Africa is still struggling with poor health policies, unfair economic arrangements, unfavourable financing that result in the inequality distribution of health services.

He said poverty, unending civil conflict and social injustice continue to condemn people in Africa to ill-health and with these problems on health and weak financial capacity, there is the likelihood that Africa will fail to attain the MDG target on health in 2015.

He said despite the challenges, it is the wish of every government to provide equity and financial risk protection as a policy goal within the context of universal coverage.

The VP said, the attainment of UHC would rely on shared aspirations to develop health on a sustainable basis with a different sense of urgency and determination.

He said Ghana took a bold step to introduce a national health insurance scheme as a way of removing financial barriers to access health care but the success story is not without its challenges and reports have suggested the need for reform to improve efficiency and deal with the demands of rapid reforms required by health insurance.

Mr. James Nyoro, African managing director for Rockefeller Foundation said much had already been done on health insurance on the continent but there was still a need to draw available material together, focus the neglected issues and integrate insight on these areas into the overall health insurance policy framework.

He said health care financing in African countries paid by citizens has brought about high health care cost on households which calls for immediate attention and the needed efforts on the part of policy makers.

Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Health said universal health insurance is very important to Africa development and it is necessary to offer affordable quality health care regardless of the country's economic status and the 1stPan Africa Universal Health Coverage has created a great platform to discuss the challenges and find the appropriate solutions in other to promote equity and quality health across Africa.

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