World Health Report launched
Accra, Jan. 26, GNA- Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Health, on Monday launched the World Health Report with a call on all and sundry to participate in shaping a healthy, equitable and sustainable health system.
He said this could be done by health workers being bold and innovative, setting ambitious targets for nutrition, maternal and child health, access to basic services and by putting health at the centre of economic development.
Dr Afriyie said real progress in Health development depended on stronger health systems based on primary health care and the first major health development should adopt the principle of primary health care as way of overcoming the gross disparities in health care and its status. He said in Ghana, bridging the gap of inequality has been the central theme of government's poverty reduction strategy for which it had been translated into key policies such as close to client service delivery system and direct funding of poor communities under the HIP initiative.
The report, which had the theme "Shaping the future", takes a look at the global health situation, examines lessons from successes, failures, challenges and determines to narrow the inequality gaps and move towards the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The seven-chapter report, addresses health problems, which include SARS epidemic, Polio eradication, life expectancy, HIV/AIDS and challenges, MDGs and Cardiovascular diseases.
Dr Afriyie noted that there was the need to define a new type of collaboration between health care providers and clients and ensure that there was an increase in use of community structures in addressing health issues.
"We need to find innovative ways in addressing the pressing health problems most of which requires a multi-sectoral approach to handling the issue".
Professor David Ofori-Adjei, Director of the Nouguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research who gave an over view of the report said the report even though was not comprehensive, it focused on selected themes mentioning other important health subjects like mental health, malaria, tuberculosis, reproductive health, malnutrition and environment in passing.
The report indicated that health status of Ghana has seen some improvement with the life expectancy at birth for both sexes stood at 57.6 years in 2002 and probability of dying per 1000 for children aged less than five years was 106 for males and 99 for females.
The probability of dying per 1000 for ages 15 to 60 years was 354 for males and 303 for females whilst under five mortality has halved, since independence and stood at 116 per 1000 births at the end of the last century as opposed to 179 in the early 1970.
The major causes of morbidity and mortality have remained the same that malaria, anaemia and acute respiratory tract infections for several decades apart from recent addition for non-communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Prof. Ofori-Adjei however called for access to health care and coverage on the basis of need and commitment to health equity as part of development oriented to social justice.
Dr Melville George, WHO Country Representative, called on government to increase investment in health care and work hard to achieve the development millennium goals set.
He noted that epidemics of cardiovascular diseases, tobacco related conditions and the hazards of the growth in road accidents were spreading in developing countries and these have not been given the needed attention.
He called for more attention to address these areas, which seemed to have been neglected.