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Regional News Mon, 27 Sep 2004

Scattered health information hamper research

Accra, Sept. 27, GNA - Dr Ken Sagoe, Director of Human Resource Development of Ghana Health Service (GHS), at a meeting on Monday called on stakeholders to collaborate to ensure the establishment of a national health library, where health information could be readily accessed and utilised.

He said lack of an established national health library and well-established institutional libraries in health institutions posed a great challenge to accessing quality information that could facilitate the provision of quality health care in the country.

Most often the Ministry of Health as well as its sub-departments are unable to provide basic and concrete health statistics and other findings that could educate the public to know more about what was pertaining on a particular health subject.

The meeting, organised by the GHS in collaboration with the Ghana Information Network for Knowledge Sharing (GINKS) and the Medical Resource Africa (MERA) an international magazine, seeks to identify gaps in health information sharing and to explore opportunities for improvement at all levels within the health care delivery system in the country.

It was under the theme: "Towards a Multi-Product Health Information Sharing."

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Dr Sagoe said though there were pieces of information on various health subjects, accessing such information was difficult since they were scattered among the various sector departments and agencies under the Ministry of Health.

He said GHS had been organising In-Service-Training (IST) programmes for its staff to upgrade their knowledge and make them more efficient in health care delivery.

"Though we have been working hard on upgrading the knowledge and skills of our personnel, certain gaps and hitches such as poor management support and commitment and weak institutional and management structures often posed great setbacks to achieving our goals."

He stated that it was the goal of the IST policy to strengthen a systematic, regular and structured continuing education system linked to delivery and practice of quality healthcare.

Dr Sagoe, however, linked the setbacks in the IST programme to lack of proper monitoring and post-training follow-ups; poor coordination of training within regions and districts as well as poor documentation of training activities, which, he said, contributed to the jamming up of quality health information that could otherwise be properly utilised for maximum results.

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Dr Sagoe commended the MERA, which has been a very resourceful and educational health information magazine to the Ghanaian sector for the past one year.

The GHS has been receiving the journal free of charge on monthly basis for distribution to health workers in the country. He stated that the journal had made tremendous impact in providing certain updated information and education on global health issues. He said the gaps within the health sector could be bridged if health workers were given updated information so that they could catch up with current medical practices.

Mr Said Al-Hussein of Human Resource Training Unit of GHS said there was the need for training programmes that would be of benefit to the health sector instead.

"Most often personnel, who attend certain training programmes are put in places where they could not utilise the skills acquired and this was a minus to the health sector and often frustrate them to leave the country for greener pastures," he said.

He noted that to map up the gaps in the IST of the GHS there was also the need to ensure the appropriateness of available information given.

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Mr Bryan Pearson, Editor and Publisher (MERA), said the journal provided up- to-date information on health issues in Africa and was ready to partner with medical experts in Ghana and other skilled writers to bring out some of the key issues on health in the country for discussion.

"I believe that people must know about key health issues that pertains in and out of their country and MERA had the objective of doing just that," he said.

He said his company currently produced 1,000 copies of the journal monthly, but hoped to increase its production to cover a wider area in the West African Sub-Region.

He called for proper collaboration between the various health sectors of the country to form a comprehensive National Health Research Centre where people could go and access all the information they needed.

Source: GNA