Regional News Tue, 24 Feb 2004

Malaria and HIV/AIDS, major headache- Health Director

Bolgatanga, Feb. 24, GNA- The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in the Upper East Region distributed 121,850 insecticide treated bed nets to pregnant women and children under five years in 2003, as part of its campaign to combat malaria in the region.

Except HIV/AIDS, malaria continues to pose the greatest challenge to health workers in the region, accounting for 55.9 per cent of OPD cases, 30.7 per cent of admissions and 17.2 per cent of deaths reported in health facilities in the area last year.

Dr Joseph Amankwa, Regional Director of Health Services, said this in a speech at an end-of-year get-together and awards night held for GHS staff in Bolgatanga at the weekend.

He said the problem of malaria requires a holistic solution that would tackle all the contributory factors. "Until we mobilise resources to properly manage our environment alongside other measures, we shall continue to fight a losing battle against mosquitoes and, for that matter, malaria" he declared.

On HIV/AIDS, the Director indicated that between 1989 and 2003, 819 cases were reported from health institutions in the region, and that last year alone 339 new cases were recorded. He said the sero-prevalence results at one site rose from 2.4 per cent in 2001 to 5.1 per cent in 2002, a situation he described as "alarming."

Dr Amankwa mentioned shortage of health workers, delays in cash flow, inadequate health infrastructure and capital investment, weak health information management systems and poor supervision as some of the major problems hindering efficient health care delivery in the region.

He said there were serious shortages of health personnel at all grades, and that the GHS in the region is working with 40 per cent of its required human resource.


Nurse-patient ratio stands at 1:1,400 while doctor-to-patient ratio is 1:48,000, because in most situations health workers posted to the region refused transfers.

Dr Amankwa said in spite of these challenges, the regional health directorate has made modest achievements in various areas including the Expanded Programme on Immunization, disease surveillance and prevention of epidemics.

He said a modest achievement was also made in reproductive health and that for the first time, the institutional maternal mortality ratio had decreased from 340 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2002 to 203 deaths per 100,000 births in 2003.

He commended the Regional Co-ordinating Council, district assemblies, UNICEF, World Vision International, UNFPA, WFP and other healthcare partners who in diverse ways contributed significantly to health service delivery in the region.

The Regional Minister, Mr Mahami Salifu, said health workers play a unique role in national development, as productivity of any society depends on the health of its people. Mr Salifu said reports reaching his office indicated that there was an outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis (CSM) in some parts of the region, and urged health personnel to work hard to bring the situation under control.

He told them that the success or otherwise of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) would depend on their committed and dedicated services as they are the main implementers of the scheme. "Government is prepared to commit resources to provide equipment and to cater for the welfare of health workers", he added. Ten individuals and four health institutions received awards for outstanding performances. The Best Regional Hospital Worker award went to Madam Abiba Iddi of the Bolgatanga general hospital, whilst the Best District Hospital Award went to the Navrongo War Memorial Hospital. The Best Health Centre award went to Garu Health Centre. All award winners received certificates and electrical gadgets as prizes.

Source: GNA