The Executive Director for Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights Vicky T. Okine, said the country still required a comprehensive approach to realizing its obligations and commitments to ensure broad-based, high quality and affordable healthcare to citizens, especially the poor.
She said the desired situation was to ensure Universal Health Care for all Ghanaians and to advocate as civil society organization for better financial protection of those who access healthcare especially at the basic level.
Ghana has committed to a concerted effort to ensure all Ghanaians have adequate, high-quality, affordable, timely, reasonably located and socially acceptable health care by signing onto the SDGs.
Dr. Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, The Deputy Ranking Member, Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and MP for Binduri explained that most of the works are done at the community levels but bringing them to the policy level has always been a problem.
The MP argued that although the National Health Insurance Scheme was laudable, it was not sustainable as evidenced by the failures experienced by some countries that opted for it.
“For effective and valid health care, Primary Health Care (PHC) should be free, but then a structured system should be developed with reasonable premium charges for those who could pay to access further health care at the various stages of the service delivery system,” he added.
The key issue should be that citizens are able to access primary care wherever they are located.
He said this in a roundtable discussion on Advocacy for Primary Health Care and commended SEND – Ghana for their key recommendations and urged government to take steps in following those directions.
Mrs. Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, a Senior Programmes Officer at SEND Ghana, appealed to the government to focus much attention on expanding access to Primary Health Care (PHC), saying that, it is the based for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She said there is the need to link PHC to the entire SDGs, and pursue strategies for the compatibility of all health-related data, improving financing to the sector, intensifying public education on the importance of healthy lifestyles for preventive health.
“In spite of the critical role of PHC, very little attention and funding had been committed to it, compared to tertiary care, which was focused on curative approaches.”
She identified other challenges as the socio-cultural practices which form health-seeking behavior among poor and underserved women and young people, and the opportunity costs associated with accessing health services arising from local transportation challenges.
Weak and non-collaboration amongst stakeholders is critical, as health-related institutions and sub-sectors had worked in isolation, while the country had over-depended on donor partnerships to finance health care delivery and technical development,” she added.
She said issues with overcrowding of facilities and long-waiting periods, as well as the inadequacy of relevant information to clients and lack of confidence in the facilities and service providers all played a part in limiting the effectiveness of Primary Health Care.
Ghana’s Primary Health Care approach must therefore offer comprehensive package of essential services, including reproductive health services and supplies, with as little out-of-pocket expenditure as possible.
PHC must be able to offer the patient health delivery options through the coordinated effort of primary health providers, traditional healers and alternative resources Mrs Agyemang emphasized.
Apart from the policy inaction and gaps on the part of governments, circumstances, socio-cultural practices and forms of health-seeking behavior among poor and undeserved women and young people continued to affect efforts to make Primary Health Care effective in Ghana.
Universal Health Care requires reasonable geographical access for all Ghanaians, good preventive health services, effective supporting social services and appropriate levels of financial access for the citizenry.
She said government and duty bearers must focus on wide public education and support creation of the CHPS compound, galvanizing actions on proposals for health devolution in line with national decentralization agenda, and building links between