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Health News Mon, 25 Jun 2007

Regional Workshop on health component of MDGs opens

Busua (W/R), June 25,-GNA-Mr. Anthony Evans Amoah, Western Regional Minister, on Monday called on health care providers to take into account some of the poor determinants of health and the social, cultural and religious practices and values of the people in the region to enable them to make impact and achieve health targets.

He made the call when opening a four-day regional workshop on Partnership for High Impact Rapid Delivery Approach For Achieving a reduction of infant mortality and maternal mortality under the Millennium Development Goals in the region at Busua near Takoradi. The Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health organised the workshop that was attended by health managers and district development planning officers in the Region as well as representatives of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Fund For Population Activities (UNFPA), Dutch Embassy and the Danish Agency For International Development (DANIDA).

Mr. Amoah said the population of the region is predominantly illiterate because only 30 per cent of the population have basic education up to JSS and 30 per cent have no education at all. He said this has significant implications for health care providers as they undertook health education and it was unacceptable to scorn or condemn people for their ignorance as their staff commonly do. Mr. Amoah said rather, they should develop well designed messages and reach out to, as many people as possible, adding that they should work closely with local traditional healers (Nankabaa Priests and Priestess) in the communities who claimed to have control over the spiritual lives of the people.

He said these priests and priestess are often the first line of call when people were taken ill and "If you want children and pregnant women to survive, a strategy to consider will be to collaborate with the Nankabaa Priests and Priestess".

Mr Amoah said, "Work with them and not against them and if you attempt to work against them, scorn or condemn them, you will fail". He said if the region is to achieve reduction of infant and maternal mortality by 2015, the work culture exhibited by some health care providers would have to change.

"Vices such as lateness to work, absenteeism, poor staff attitudes to clients and poor response to emergencies are some of the areas that need improvement."

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Mr Amoah said these vices cannot change without sanctions and staff, who misconduct themselves would be sanctioned so as to obtain a good work place culture.

Dr. Kwame Amofa, Director of Public Health, said the High Impact Rapid Delivery Approach has become necessary because it had been realized that the country would not be able to achieve its target of reducing infant and maternal deaths by 2015. He said under the MDG, the country has to reduce the under-five mortality rate of 132 per 1000 lives births to 42 per 1000 live births and reduce maternal mortality from 214 per 1000 live births to 54 per 1000 live births by 2015.

Dr Amofa said the workshop is to find the reason for the slow pace towards the achievements of the goals and plan strategies, using the High Impact Rapid Delivery Approach to attain results. He said the initiative was being implemented in the Northern, Upper West, Upper East and Central Regions to improve child survival and safe motherhood.

Dr Sylvester Anemana, Western Regional Director of Health Services, said the past two years have been very difficult for Budget and Management Centres (BMC) of the Ghana Health Service in the region. He said during this period the Health Fund, which constituted the bigger chunk of the recurrent budget dwindled gradually until this year when it ceased to flow altogether.

Dr Anemana said as a result of the decrease in funding, it has been extremely difficult for health care managers in the region to maintain equipment, vehicles and estates, replenish consumables and medicines and also provide outreach services.

Source: GNA