A good healthcare system promotes a healthy population, while the breakdown of the system is simply a recipe for low productivity, shorter lifespan for the people, as well as poor health outcomes for the population.
In Ghana, the healthcare system swallows a large chunk of resources that go into training, building facilities, stocking them up and remunerating personnel to deliver on their ‘Hippocratic oath’.
Since much of the system falls within the public sector, it remains a social service, as the recovery of investments is not expected in full. This puts a lot of burden on the government, which has to underwrite all the expenditure relating to developing and making the healthcare sector sustainable.
Until recently, the government ran all the medical and teaching hospitals, as well as all referral hospitals. With more people entering the health profession, whether as physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians and peri-operative staff, the private sector is cashing in to make its impact felt in the sector. Besides private clinics and hospitals, there are now private medical schools, nursing training institutions and referral hospitals, with many of them being specialised.
The growth in healthcare facilities, however, still lags behind growth in the population. This brings in its wake moves by many to cash in on the shortfall. It is, therefore, not uncommon to find private clinics, laboratories and training institutions hiking their bills to the roof. There is a vast contrasting difference between bills at the public sector facilities and those in the private sector for the same service.
Besides the exorbitant bills that make quality health care appears to be the preserve of only the affluent, is the fast creeping issue of poor service delivery in many of the facilities which is due to many factors, such as the human factor and inadequate or obsolete equipment.
This is why the Daily Graphic is worried that the government spent hard currency to procure a linear accelerator machine for the treatment of cancer at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), only for it to lie idle because some of its component parts are missing.
Last Tuesday, the Daily Graphic reported that an emergency unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital was lying idle four years after it had been completed. Very important life-saving machines, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning machines, are among the idle equipment.
These infractions are widespread and impinge negatively on the health delivery system and consequently the human development indices of the country.
The Daily Graphic calls on stakeholders in the healthcare delivery system to begin to do things differently. We should build a health system that will transcend users beyond Ghana. This is the only vision that can push us to develop a world-class healthcare system that will cater for the needs of the people of Ghana and across the African continent.
Unlike industrialisation, health care is mainly based on human capacity building and skills that the Ghanaian is so capable of attaining.
Health workers should also eschew the attitude of treating clients as though they were doing the clients a favour.
The Daily Graphic calls on the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, the Ghana Medical Association and all players in the sector to chart a serious road map towards attaining a well-functioning healthcare delivery system.
With a well-functioning medical system, there would be no need for even the rich to seek medical attention offshore as rampantly as it happens nowadays.