Mr Reynolds O. Tenkorang, the General Secretary of the Health Workers Union (HSWU), says for Ghana to achieve SDGs target 3(8) for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), there must be equipment and well-trained human resource for better service delivery.
He said the authorities must put in measures to improve access to quality essential health-care services, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines for all as well as protect financial risk in the sector.
Mr Tenkorang, who was speaking at the 2018 PSWU Week celebration in Accra, said health staff conditions of service needed to be improved to motivate them to stay in the country to save lives.
The celebration was on the theme: “Universal Health Coverage: A Concern for All.” It is to celebrate the success of the Union and highlight members’ contributions towards quality healthcare delivery and challenges they face in pursuance of the UHC.
“Though the “Abuja Declaration” enjoins all member states to increase their annual budget in health to at least 15 per cent, Ghana’s budget allocation to the health sector has averaged seven per cent between 2017 and 2018.
“Countries such as Rwanda currently spend 22.3 per cent; Togo 15.4 per cent; South Africa 14 per cent and Uganda 10.2 per cent of their annual budget on health,” he said.
He, therefore, called on the Government to increase the health budget and provide adequate resources for healthcare delivery across the country.
“This way, the National Health Insurance Scheme would see massive improvement so as to deliver adequately its social protection mandate of enhancing access to health care,” he said.
“In Ghana currently, we have a doctor-patient ratio of one doctor to 8000 patients, which is far higher than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) standard of one doctor to 1,320 patient. Similarly, our nurse to patient ration currently stands at one nurse to about 22 patients as against the recommended 1:4 nurse-patient ratio by the WHO,” he added.
On some achievements chalked by the Union, he said, it continued to pay benefits to retired members, assist them and others to cross-check their SSNIT benefits, serve as Trustees of the health Sector Occupational Pension Scheme and championed the basis for the computation of the Social Security Lump Sum.
The General Secretary said the Union was overwhelmed when the Ghana Health Service introduced Geriatrics as a sub-specialty in family medicine training as well as preventive health services.
He said the Union, in collaboration with its partners, has trained 25 trainers-of trainers, who in turn trained about 100 eldercare workers in four regions; Western, Greater Accra, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo, to provide quality care for the aged.
During the recent UNI-Global Union World Congress held in Liverpool, United Kingdom in July this year, the Union received another International best “Breaking Through Mentoring Award,” he said and commended the entire members for their relentless efforts and support.
Dr Ibrahim Muhammad, National Coordinator, Amhadiyya Mission Health Service and a former Regional Director of Ghana Health Service, said with the UHC everybody must be covered under the health delivery system and commended the leadership of HSWU for its continuous support for the Mission’s staff and the entire health workers in Ghana.
He commended the Catholic Hospitals for their roles in the sector, which, he said, had gone a long way to complement government’s efforts in the healthcare delivery sector.
He suggested the institution of a national award scheme for health workers to boost their morale, saying; “Health is priceless and the health workers are the ones working to eradicate diseases among the populace.”