By Samuel Duodu, Abesim.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, has given the assurance that the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) and the government would continue to support any healthcare initiative aimed at reducing under-five and maternal mortality rate to the barest minimum in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 & 5.
He stated further that the government would also not reneged on its pledge to implement the one-time payment under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) so as to improve and sustain healthcare financing, as well as increase the accessibility of healthcare services to the ordinary Ghanaian.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister therefore, appealed to health workers in general, and those in the region in particular, to let the impact of all initiatives aimed at promoting quality healthcare in the country to be felt by the ordinary Ghanaian.
Mr Nyamekye-Marfo gave the assurance at the opening ceremony of the third Annual General Conference of the Ghana Association of Public Health Technical Officers (GAPHTO) at Abesim, near Sunyani, last Monday.
The five-day conference is on the theme “Achieving MDG 4&5, The Responsibility Of The Public Health Technical Officer”. MDG 4&5 seeks to reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate and also by three quarters over the same period the maternal mortality ratio.
Mr Nyamekye-Marfo in his address said the Brong Ahafo Region was able to vaccinate 470,800 children during the third round of the National Immunization Days, that is, 102.4 per cent over the expected coverage.
He, however, expressed worry that available statistics in the region indicated that, in 2007, 88 maternal deaths were recorded. The figure dropped to 81 in 2008, but suddenly increased to 89 in 2009.
This, he said, represented a rate of 210 per 100,000 live births as compared to the National Institutional Maternal Mortality rate of 196 per 100,000 live births.
“This situation obviously calls for an immediate solution. This is because single maternal death is an unquantifiable loss to the immediate and extended families as well as the country as a whole and we must therefore, spare no effort in this region to reverse this adverse trend”.
Touching on the dreaded HIV/AIDS, Mr Nyamekye-Marfo said the deadly disease was also on the increase in the region and from the Sentinel Reports, the disease increased from 2.6 per cent in 2008 to 2.9 in 2009, adding that, last year, out of a total of 10,036 patients and blood donors screened for HIV/AIDS by the Ghana Health Service, 1,685 were found to be positive. This is something everybody has to worry about.
“As managers of healthcare delivery in the region, it is important that we put in the necessary programmes and strategies to educate the public on the need to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent these diseases”, he told the participants.
In a speech read for the President of the association, Mr Samuel Addo, by Mr Osei Kwakye, the General Secretary, he said the promotion of good maternal and child health was dear to the hearts of many nations including Ghana, hence the adoption of the theme, because the roles and contributions of the Public Health Technical Officer in the achievements of this goal was paramount.
Mr Addo said some childhood diseases such as measles, which used to be one of the contributory factors to the high infant mortality rate in the country was now a thing of the past and therefore, members deserved some commendation.
Disparities in salary
He said the existence of low salary packages and disparities continue to be a challenge for members of the association and cited an instance where the salaries of a State Registered Nurse and that of the Technical Officer, the Community Health Nurse and the Field Technician and Technical Officers who had been able to raise themselves to degree levels through further studies still received Technical Officers salary.
Mr Addo expressed the hope that the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) would address these disparities and added that lack of career development, delayed promotion and lack of placement after further training were some of the challenges faced by members of the association.
Notwithstanding these, The GAPHTO President pledged that they would not relent in their efforts to serve the country, intensify their collaboration with policy makers and other partners for the growth and development of the association.
Dr Aaron Offei, the Regional Director of Health Service, for his part, commended members of the association for their role in promoting maternal and child health in the country as well as diseases control.