A group of health experts drawn from civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, social movements and academia, Friday, April 6, 2018, gathered in Accra to discuss and brainstorm on Ghana’s pursuit of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and primary health care strategies.

The health experts include the Country Coordinator, PHM/Ghana and Senior Lecturer, Department of Community Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, University of Cape Coast (UCC),
Dr. Kingsley Pereko, Executive Director, Hope for Future Generations, Madam Cecilia Senoo, Executive Director, Skyfox Limited, Mr. Patrick Apoya and the Country Director, MPA, Chief Nat Ebo Nsarko.

The discussions focused on the state of the country’s health care, the health sector as well as challenges and prospects with the National Health Insurance Scheme as a tool for universal health coverage.

The event was put together by the People’s Health Movement (PHM) and Millennium Promise Alliance (MPA) to commemorate the 2018 World Health Day under the theme “The pursuit of Universal Health Coverage in Ghana – 40 years of Alma Ata and comprehensive Primary Health Care”.

The event was also used to launch the Global Health Watch (GHW) 5 which is the latest edition of what remains the leading source for radical analysis in global and development healthcare.

Launching the report, Mr. Selorme Kofi Azumah, Senior Advisor, Ipas, and a member of PHM-Ghana, noted that the Global Health Watch has for the past decade been the definitive source for alternative analysis on health and healthcare, challenging conventional wisdom and pioneering innovative new approaches to the field.

This new edition, he added, addresses the key challenges facing governments and health practitioners today, within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Collaboratively written by academics and activists drawn from a variety of movements, research institutions, and civil society organisations, its case studies cover some of the most pressing issues in world health, from the resurgence of epidemic diseases such as Ebola to antimicrobial resistance, climate change and the war on drugs and health insurance schemes.

He indicated that the report combines rigorous analysis with practical policy suggestions and offers an accessible and compelling case for a radical new approach to healthcare across the world.

Mr. Apoya commenting on the report and linking it to Ghana’s NHIS said if the country wants to succeed with its health insurance scheme, there was the need to build alliance or forge partnerships with stakeholders in the health sector.

He said it was important for the government to critically re-examine its budgetary allocation to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), especially, the amount that goes into the upgrade and acquisition of software development to manage the insurance scheme.

“Every year there is allocation for software, why? What exactly is there that every year we have to upgrade or buy a new software – it raises eyebrows and the Government needs to look into that”, he noted.

He also expressed worry over one contractor who is always contracted by the NHIA to execute different projects ranging from software acquisition to infrastructure.

The NHIS, Mr. Apoya added, needs a critical review to address the need factor.

Chief Nat Nsarko on the other hand stressed the need for critical investment at the local level or health centers to strengthen the country’s CHPS as well as our referral systems starting from the sub-district level where majority of the population live if we seek to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

“It is evident that trained, incentivized and supervised community health workers like all other health professionals can contribute immensely towards our efforts at attaining the health-related SDGs. The role of these frontline health workers in ensuring early detection of diseases, prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyles and wellbeing for all, must be duly recognized and supported”, he stressed.

Dr. Pereko on his part, told the gathering that he was worried about the uneven distribution of health resources geographical across the country.

Accra alone, he noted, has four huge tertiary facilities whiles most regions lack such first class facilities.

Besides, greater percentage of the country’s health burden requires placing greater emphasis on preventive health which is unfortunately low on the health priority list