30 November 2012

Ghana: 'NPP Will Ensure Quality Healthcare Delivery'

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has reiterated its commitment, as contained in its 2012 Manifesto, to improve the health status of all people living in Ghana, regardless of sex, age, ethnic origin or political affiliation, as it recognises that good health is an important milestone for economic success.

At a press conference organised at the party's head office yesterday, Dr, Nsiah Asare, a member of the NPP's Health Committee, stated that Ghana's health system being, which was being presided over by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), was facing serious challenges, with access, quality and utilisation of healthcare facilities at an all-time low.

According to Dr. Nsiah Asare, the NPP, under Nana Akufo-Addo, would improve the efficiency of service delivery, and encourage and expand the private sector role in the economy and the provision of social services such as health.

The NPP, according Dr. Nsiah Asare, would ensure that every district and region has a functioning and well-equipped designated hospital, as well as construct three state-of-the-art national hospitals to encourage medical tourism in the sub-region.

In tackling the nation's perennial problem of maternal mortality and morbidity, Dr. Nsiah stated that the NPP would strengthen the free maternal and child care policy it initiated, improve supervised delivery by trained health workers, ensure proper distribution of trained staff to needy areas, and motivate them to remain and function optimally, whilst at the same time increase accessibility to well-equipped health facilities with proper referral systems.

"Through the free SHS strategy we shall increase the level of female education to address ignorance, inappropriate cultural practices, and poverty associated with high maternal deaths, and improve overall socio-economic development, including employment and income generation ventures to reduce poverty," he added.

Dr. Nsiah Asare further added that the NPP would improve mental health through training and integration into the clinical and preventive health care system, as this was one of the greatest challenges in the health sector in the area of mental health.

With only five specialist psychiatrists in the public health system, the NPP was set to "offer incentives to make it attractive for young doctors to specialise in psychiatry, and we shall tackle the long standing problem of the disgraceful state of the Psychiatric Hospital in the middle of Accra."

Dr. Nsiah Asare further assured Ghanaians that the NPP would increase the training of healthcare workers, as well as put in place measures to retain health workers.

"We shall train more nursing tutors, and improve the capacity of the nursing tutors we have in the system, through continuous professional development to increase the pass rate. Our priority will be to train our doctors locally.

"We will expand existing medical schools and establish a National Institute for Biomedical Sciences, where medical students will have their basic sciences, and this will make it possible to increase the intake of the medical schools. Thereafter, students can move to accredited hospitals outside the teaching hospitals to do their clinical studies," he said.

Some of the other measures the next NPP government would introduce to improve healthcare delivery, Dr. Nsiah Asare said, would include increasing health spending in real terms every year; making dental care accessible to the poor and vulnerable; refocusing capital investment on primary and community services; and introducing e-Health policy to make access to healthcare and health tips easily accessible to consumers, via the internet and mobile phones

He assured the pharmaceutical companies that the NPP government would help the local pharmaceutical industry "to serve our people well, and become more competitive in the international market."

He stressed that the NPP would borrow from the experiences of India and elsewhere, to become the masters of this lucrative industry.

Dr. Asare noted that under the NDC, what Ghana had seen were measures that were counterproductive to the growth of the local industry, with Facility Audit Fees, for example, going up from $7,000 in 2008 to $15,000.

"At the same time, the Food & Drugs Board has seen its share of the national budget decreasing in real terms. We will change this as part of our policy to focus more on preventive and primary health care," he maintained.

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