The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has said it intends to abolish direct posting of health professionals to public health institutions after their graduation.Rather, health personnel should be allowed to search for jobs themselves, apply and attend interviews before accepting postings to health institutions.Speaking at the opening of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) 2018 annual conference in Sunyani last Wednesday, the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, called for an urgent solution to staffing challenges in the country. CHAG, an association of health facilities operated by 33 Christian missions, has a total of 332 health facilities and health training institutions operating across the length and breadth of the country. The conference was held on the theme: “Building a resilient health system towards attaining universal health coverage; the role of CHAG”.
“The present bottlenecks in ensuring staffing at all existing health facilities across the country simply have to be tackled now, not tomorrow . . . and I believe we should stop posting health professionals now,” Dr Nsiah-Asare stated. He said the GHS would declare where gaps existed in particular health institutions and whether or not it had financial clearance to employ. It would then allow qualified personnel to go to the various regions to apply for the positions and be examined by the regional health directorates before the applicants accept the postings. He noted that the issue of inadequate and equitable distribution of health professionals would continue to be a major challenge in the health sector which required skilled human resources in the right numbers and in the right skill mix for the effective delivery of health services.
It is becoming a regular feature for unemployed health workers to mass up at the Ministry of Health to demand postings. In February this year, the government told graduate nurses to stop picketing at the ministry as plans were far advanced to employ them. This year, the government is employing 32,000 health professionals out of which 27,000 are nurses.
The 32,000 are graduates from 2014 to 2016, who are going to be employed. They are the health personnel who could not secure jobs within the period. Commenting on the employment of health personnel, Dr Nsiah-Asare said the GHS was making all efforts to secure financial clearance to engage the health professionals. For his part, the Executive Director of CHAG, Mr Peter K. Yeboah, explained that with barely 7.5 per cent of national health infrastructure, the association contributed 20 per cent Out-Patient Department (OPD) and 30 per cent in-patient care in the country.
“By virtue of the location of member facilities, inspired by our pro-poor values, CHAG complements government’s efforts in providing holistic health care to the hard-to-reach, deprived and neglected populations,’’ Mr Yeboah said. He explained that owing to the re-designation of Ghana as a lower middle-income country and changes in the development paradigm, most donors and development partners had withdrawn funding support to the various CHAG facilities. “The situation has been exacerbated further by the government’s stoppage of subsidies for administration, fuel and utilities. Coupled with these developments are the unintended effects of the NHIS delays in reimbursement and uneconomic service charges which continue to adversely affect access to affordable quality service delivery,” Mr Yeboah added.
Welcoming the delegates, the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, said Ghanaians were grateful to CHAG for its invaluable services, particularly to those in the rural areas. He indicated that 80 per cent of health facilities in the region were CHAG facilities, with 10 district hospitals being operated by the various Christian missions, adding that health delivery in Ghana would not be completed without the involvement of CHAG.
For his part, a Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Kingsley Aboagye Gyedu, said the government recognised CHAG as a key partner in the delivery of health services and gave an assurance that the necessary incentives would be provided to enhance its operations. He stated that the government was looking forward to the day primary health care would be ceded to CHAG and other private hospitals so that it could concentrate on health delivery at the secondary and tertiary delivery services. The Omanhene of the Berekum Traditional Area, Nana Dr Amankona Diawuo, who chaired the function, called for the review of the drug list by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) at short intervals since prices of medicines changed from time to time. He also called for the increase of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) premiums to enable the NHIA to get enough funds to settle claims by the various health facilities implementing the insurance scheme.