Ghana: Let's Hasten Universal Health Coverage

Mother and healthy baby in a family planning clinic in the Oromiyaa region of Ethiopia.
13 December 2018

IT is said that the wealth of the nation depends upon the health of its people; or the health of its people determines the wealth of the nation. It is only when people are healthy that they can work and create wealth for themselves and for the country as a whole.

Researchers have shown how diseases like malaria can take one away from productivity and lead to loss of income and consequently deepen poverty in a family, community and the nation.

The World Health Organisation defines health "as state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease of infirmity."

The concept of UHC seeks to ensure that there is equity in healthcare so that everybody, irrespective of geographical location, benefits from the essential service. Indeed, quality should be good enough to meet the needs of the client and that cost of healthcare should not be a barrier.

To achieve UHC there is the need to build a resilient health system that will respond to the growing needs of the population.

On Tuesday, the world celebrated the Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The day is dedicated by the United Nations General Assembly to prevail on member countries to accelerate progress toward universal coverage in which everyone everywhere should have access to quality, affordable healthcare as essential priority to national development.

Although Ghana has achieved some degree of success in healthcare delivery over the years, much more remains to be achieved in terms of reducing the high level of maternal mortality and infant mortality in the country.

Ghana has failed to achieve the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals in halving maternal and infant mortality rates, but still has the opportunity under the Sustainable Development Goals to improve upon the health indicators and ensure UHC by 2030.

But, this is herculean task, given the fact that our healthcare system is not resilient enough to respond to the urgent needs of the growing population that comes with complications in disease transmission.

Of course, the health system needs much investment for us to attain the UHC. We are still grappling to ensure equity in healthcare delivery. Some people do not have access to quality healthcare due to geographical and financial barrier that needs to be dismantled.

What is needed, therefore, is a robust and resilient system to respond to, especially emergency cases, that lead to loss of precious lives. In addition, the attitude among some essential healthcare providers that do not auger well for the profession must stop.

We have the strategies to ensure UHC in the country; that is the Community-Based Health Planning and Service, popularly known as CHPS compound that had been tested and proven, and appropriately incorporated into our health care delivery.

The Ghanaian Time believes that we need to marshal the resources to expand the outreach of the CHPS compounds to all nooks and crannies of the country and resourced them with well motivated healthcare providers and essential drugs, to serve a robust frontline preventive and curative healthcare.

We are aware that the government had prioritised health care in the Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies 2017-2024.

As we observe the International Universal Health Coverage Day, we remind the government about its commitment to ensuring a healthy population capable of contributing fully to national socioeconomic development through the provision of affordable, equitable, easily accessible and quality Universal Health Coverage.

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