Undue Rush for Further Studies by Health Staff Blamed
for Slow Progress in Attaining Health Targets
Dr. John Koku Awoonor-Williams, Upper East Regional Director of Health Services
Undue rush for further studies by staff has become a prime contributor to slow progress in the achievement of health care delivery targets in the Upper East Region, the Regional Director of Health Services Dr. John Koku Awoonor-Williams has noted. Dr. Awoonor-Williams made this known in Bolgatanga during the region’s 2013 Annual Health Sector Performance Review.
Addressing participants comprising health workers, heads of various sector departments and agencies, community leaders, local and international health partners and Journalists, the Regional Director of Health Services said there is a mad rush for further studies by health staff many of whom have not even attained the required minimum number of years a staff must serve to qualify for further studies.
Dr. Awoonor said the inexplicable desire of staff to quickly proceed for further studies is not only a disregard for laid down rules and regulations governing staff career development in the service but has also created a situation which makes it difficult for the region to maintain sufficient critical human resources such as nurses, midwives and other health professionals to ensure effective health care delivery to the population. He expressed worry about the situation and lashed out at some managers for contributing to this trend by condoning nepotism, tribalism and other unethical management practices. He went further to charge all health managers to insist on doing the right thing in ensuring that staff career advancement and other resources management decisions reflect the desires of the sector.
Whilst admitting that the year 2013 was a difficult one for the service in Upper East Region, the Regional Director of Health pointed out that the region made commendable progress in most key health indicators. Some of these included significant reduction in institutional maternal mortality from 141/100,000LB in 2012 to 111/100,000 LB in 2013, newborn deaths from 174 in 2012 to 148 in 2013, malaria case fatality in under-fives from 1.6 in 2010 to 0.7 in 2013, stunting and wastage from 25.45% and 8.1% in 2012 to 19.6% and 5.1 respectively in 2013 . There were also considerable improvements in supervised delivery increasing from 91.5% in 2012 to 95.2% in 2013 whiles OPD Attendance per capita from 1.5% in 2010 to 2.15% in 2013.
Dr. Awoonor attributed the gains made to the increasing utilization of some of the tools used in improving services delivery. These he said include the use of BottleNeck Analysis framework in planning and decision making, the Leadership Development Program, District Health Planning and Reporting Tool Kid (DiHPART) among others. He noted as significant the deployment of more midwives to CHPS compounds, the scale-up of Newborn Care activities, and the innovative deployment of MotorKing Ambulances under the Sustainable Emergency Referral Care (SERC) and the contributions of the Ghana Essential Health Intervention Program (GEHIP) among others.
The Regional Director of Health gave assurance that while the region is committed to maintaining the gains made in 2013 more concerted efforts will be directed at indicators that continue to witness little or downward progress. He mentioned some of these indicators to include childhood immunization, family planning, first trimester registration of pregnant women and adolescent and reproductive health as well as quality referral.
Dr. Awoonor was full of praise for health partners including UNICEF, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Comic Relief, the Japanese and Korean Governments, Columbia University, University of Ghana School of Public Health for their resource and technical support to the health sector and also thanked the local assemblies, NGOs, communities and other partners for their collaboration.
In a speech read for him by his deputy, the Upper East Regional Minister, Alhaji Hon. Limuna Mohammed Muniru assured the Regional Health Directorate of the support of the various District and Municipal Assemblies in the provision and repairs of health infrastructure to increase access and quality of health care delivery. He noted the interdependence of various sectors such as health, education food and agriculture and appealed for closer collaboration to ensure the achievement of needed impact in the lives of the people. The Regional Minister reiterated his call on assemblies to take seriously the sponsorship for the training of critical health professionals including nurses, midwives and medical students.
Delivering a message for the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Samuel Kaba, Director in charge of Clinical Care commended health authorities in the region for the consistently high performance in their mandate and entreated them to intensify proper documentation and sharing of the best practices from the region across other regions for the benefit of all citizens in the country. He commended the region as being the best performing in the country in supervised/skilled delivery saying that from all the indicators, the region is the safest place for a pregnant woman to deliver.