Over 81 percent of Ghanaian patients have never seen or heard of the Ghana Health Service patients’ charter, that is according to a study jointly published by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition and the HAP Foundation in 2014.
This knowledge deficit among Ghanaians, have made many health professionals to violate the rights of people seeking healthcare at various health facilities across the country on a daily basis.
The patients’ charter of the GHS is a document that clearly spells out the rights and responsibilities of patients who seek healthcare in public and private health facilities. It behoves every patient and healthcare provider to understand what is stated in the patients’ charter, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Ignorance of the existence of the patients’ charter is not only among ordinary citizens but it also exists among many health professionals including nurses, doctors and other category of healthcare providers.
Thanks to a new ICT-enabled platform developed by Penplusbytes as part of the implementation of the People for Health (P4H) project, many patients and their relatives can now heave a sigh of relief.
The platform, P4H Ghana, gives a patient or their relative the power to report any type of rights violation and poor services rendered to him/her by health personnel in any health facility in the regions where the P4H project is being implemented.
Speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) and the Media and Communication Advocates Network (MCAN) in Tamale, Kwabena Tabiri, one of the lead developers of P4H Ghana, said the platform will be operational in coming weeks after it has been fully launched.
“It is aimed at empowering citizens to voice their concerns on service delivery which will be channelled to duty bearers for the necessary action to be taken to ensure provision of quality services from healthcare providers,” he explained.
The workshop was intended to sensitise MCAN members and other journalists on what the P4H project is about and seeks to achieve in the health sector of Ghana especially in the areas maternal and family planning, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, nutrition and malaria.
P4H is a 5 year project, being implemented in 4 regions of Ghana including Greater Accra, Eastern, Volta and Northern Regions by a consortium of governmental and nongovernmental organisations including SEND-Ghana, Penplusbytes and the GNA. SEND-Ghana is the lead implementer of P4H whereas the GNA and Penplusbytes provide communications and ICT services respectively.
“The project is going to benefit 20 districts in all four regions…. and in the Northern Region, it is being implemented in Karaga, Central Gonja, East Mamprusi and Yendi”, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of SEND-Ghana, Nana Aisha Mohammed explained.
The objectives of the project, she said, seek to reduce inequalities in the delivery of health services through the promotion of good governance and practices of accountability, transparency, equity and participation.
“Through this project, we’re also expected to strengthen health sector monitoring of government institutions, officials and policy processes as well as empower civil society to engage citizens to demand and participate in health service delivery and advocate for their interest”, Nana further explained.
Kwabena also implored the media to educate citizens to understand the concept of P4H Ghana. “The platform can be accessed via people4health.org. You can choose to log in anonymously or provide your personal details but managers of the system will protect your identity.
“As soon as the issue the patient reported is resolved, he/she will be contacted via sms if only the patient provided his/her contact number at the time of accessing the platform to make a complaint”, he said.
He however admonished that, people who access the platform to lodge complaints must provide evidence in pictures, audio or video to back their claim so that staff and managers of the health facility involved can be held responsible.
P4H Ghana is not limited to only challenges in the health sector. Issues pertaining to the water and sanitation sector which is one of the issues being addressed by the P4H project can also be reported to local authorities.
District Health Management Committees, Regional Health Directorates, Ghana Health Service and other institutions are deeply involved in the investigation of reported cases of abuse by patients or their relatives to the platform.
Kwabena Tabiri urged Ghanaians to trust the system, saying “patients who report cases of abuse with evidence can be guaranteed justice will be served.”