June 28, 2011

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister for Health on Monday called for a bold, innovative policies and strategies to train experts in bridging the gap between the rich and the poor in the health delivery system.

He said the country needed sincere commitments at policy level to design and implement systems to be backed by strategic and strong regulatory mechanisms.

Mr Yieleh Chireh who is also the Member of Parliament for Wa West made the call when he opened the 15th Annual Conference of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa (AMCOA) in Accra under the theme: “Accelerating the Health Related Millennium Development Goals (MDG): The Role of Regulatory Bodies”.

He noted that weak health systems exacerbated by challenges in developing and retaining the requisite human resource, lack of access to basic proven interventions and burden of endemic diseases have affected developing countries including Ghana in achieving the MDG’s target of 2015.

He said the country had embarked on policies and social protection mechanisms that allowed for free services for pregnant women through delivery for a period of one year.

The Minister noted that government was expanding the Community based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative, which was an expression of the close-to-client policy and had also made the health insurance scheme more responsive by removing existing financial barriers for the poor in accessing health care.

He said many African countries were struggling to meet the Abuja target of 15 per cent of public sector expenditure on health and stressed that although funding for health had increased, the country was far away from the 34 dollars per capita expenditure recommended by the Commission on Macro Economics and Health.

The Minister noted that technology held a lot of promise for making big strides needed for improving the health of communities, especially the rural areas and called for the need to place premium on regulation.

“Without regulation, there is bound to be lawlessness leading to anarchy resulting to infiltration of untrained personnel which will undermine all efforts in achieving the health related MDGs”.

“We need to develop policies, legal and regulatory frameworks for its roll-out in the health sector in developing countries and minimize frequent failures in the adoption of e-health solutions” he added.

Professor Yakub Mulla, Acting President of AMCOA said 101 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve the MDGs by 2015 under the UN Millennium Declaration signed in September 2000.

Prof Mulla said the focus on health was to achieve the MDGs 4, 5 and 6, that are to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health and to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease respectively.

He explained that progress on the MDG 4 have revealed that annual deaths of children fell by 35 per cent to 8.1 million from 1990 to 2009 and the rate of decline doubled to 2.7 per cent since 2000 compared to the previous decade of 1.3 per cent.

Prof Mullah said maternal deaths due to pregnancy complications have also decreased by 34 per cent globally with a decline of 2.3 per cent on progress on the MDG 5.

He said on MDG 6, access to Anti malarial drugs was inadequate in many countries with nine million people being left out in the treatment of HIV by 2009 whilst deaths from malaria was still high in Africa.

He explained that action was needed to protect the health spending of governments and donors with sustained and predictable health funding.

Prof Mulla called for the need for the Medical and Dental Council to ensure that standards of education were consistent and efficiently responding to the challenges of the current disease burden, since “the quality in the performance of all registered practioners, health facilities and training institutions will drive the efforts in achieving the MDGs”.