Gov’t finds ‘financial antedote’ for health sector
The National Child Health Coordinator of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Isabella Sagoe Moses, has revealed that government has adopted pragmatic health financing and implementation plan to bridge the funding gaps identified in the health sector.
Government is engaging development partners and other stakeholders on the health financing plans especially to deal with challenges relating to inflows into the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Dr Sagoe Moses was speaking during the presentation of Ghana’s third, fourth and fifth consolidated periodic report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The report assessed the progress made by government as regard the advancement of implementation and the status of children in terms of adherence to the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the realization of their rights and freedoms at home, school and all other places in which they often find themselves, and the provision of their needs.
The session was chaired by Professor Benyam Dawit Mezmur who is also the Chairperson of the 18- member committee of experts. Ghana’s delegation was headed by Nana Oye Lithur Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, some Members of Parliament, civil society activists and technocrats.
Dr Sagoe Moses noted that the GHS had worked actively, leading to the reduction in mortality rates in those under five years, infants and newborns.
She said this was due to renewed efforts to increase access to essential preventive and curative services. Strategies such as the yearly commemoration of child health promotion weeks, maternal and child health campaigns as well as the high impact rapid delivery approach have contributed to the reduction.
In line with the UN-CRC recommendation to continue to combat malaria and address environmental causes and strengthen availability of nets and insecticides, Dr Sagoe Moses said Ghana has made remarkable improvements.
“Evidence abound that under-five malaria case fatality has declined steadily over the review period,” she said. Citing the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey, Dr Sagoe Moses said the survey shows significant increases in the proportion of children less than five years and pregnant women aged 15-49 who use insecticide-treated nets (ITNs).
“One third of households in Ghana now have at least one insecticide-treated mosquito net compared with only three per cent of households in 2003. Overall, 28 per cent of children under five, and 20 per cent of pregnant women aged 15-49 sleep under an ITN, an improvement on what had been reported in the 2003.”
Dr Sagoe Moses explained that the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to children at no cost has greatly improved bed net ownership over the years. Indoor residual spraying has also been introduced and applied to complement efforts to reduce malaria.
“Ghana has recently benefited from the affordable medicines for malaria facility, greatly reducing the cost of malaria treatment,” she said, adding that the introduction of malaria-free zones in communities has also contributed to some decline in malaria cases in the country.
In spite of the marked improvements in the fight against malaria, Dr Sagoe Moses admitted that it still remains a public health concern that needs to be tackled seriously to further reduce child morbidity and mortality.
According to her, the GHS has intensified its awareness-raising and programme interventions on breastfeeding. Results of the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey indicate an impressive improvement in exclusive breastfeeding.
Dr Sagoe Moses said there has been remarkable improvement in adolescent health-care services in Ghana, with focus on adolescent reproductive and mental health issues.
The committee recommended that Ghana should undertake all necessary measures to reduce mortality rates by improving prenatal care and preventing communicable diseases; and allocate more financial resources to child health, nutrition and access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
It also called on the country to continue to combat malaria and address environmental causes and strengthen availability of nets and insecticides, especially in areas where malaria is most prevalent and ensure that all children, regardless of economic status, have access to impregnated nets. – GNA