Nongovernmental organization SEND Ghana is asking government to increase funding to the health sector to help create a healthier country.

Ghana was one of the original signatories to the Abuja Declaration in 2001 which requires that African government spend a minimum of 15% of their national budget on the health sector. However, according to SEND Ghana, 16 years down on, the sector’s share of the national budget has averaged less than 8% per annum.

The organization in a monitoring report launched recently indicated that the key health challenges facing deprived communities, vulnerable and stigmatized groups in the country remain unmet and in some cases are worsening.

‘Illness and deaths due to preventable causes such as malaria, diarrhea and malnutrition that prompted Africa government leaders to endorse the Abuja Declaration remain as real as they were a decade and a half ago” their research report noted.

“Ghana was unable to meet key health sector Millennium Development Goals and among the main reasons was the failure of successive governments to allocate adequate funding to health related program targeting the vulnerable in underserved communities” the report said.
The People for Health Project’s “monitoring report on the 0.5% District Assemblies Common Fund allocation to HIV/AIDS” was launched in Accra by SEND Ghana in collaboration with Ghana News Agency, Penplusbyte and funded by USAID. The report recommended at increment of the allocation from 0.5 percent to 2 percent.

The report noted that about 12,000 poor Ghanaians surveyed wanted government to increase budgetary allocation to the seven existing programmes of the Ministry of Health in the 2018 to 2020 national budgets to strengthen the implementation of seven pro-poor health programs of the Ministry.

The seven pro-poor health priorities are: Malaria, Nutrition, Water, Sanitation hygiene, Maternal and child health, family planning and HIV/AIDS, targeted at lactating mothers, pregnant woman, under-fives, youth, people living with HIV and persons with disability.
SEND Ghana believes that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their status, 90% people diagnosed with the infection will receive antiretroviral therapy and 90% of them will have viral suppression.

Country Director for SEND-Ghana, George Osei-Bimpeh says that in order to achieve this, government should release increased funds as soon as possible to the District Assemblies, Ghana AIDS commission and the Ministry of health.

On maternal mortality, he said late referrals, poorly equipped infrastructure and pregnancy disorders are major problems contributing to maternal deaths. He added that poor attitude of health professionals contributed to some of the key health challenges facing deprived communities, vulnerable and stigmatized groups.

Also present at the launch were representatives from the District Assembly Common Fund, Ghana AIDS commission, Ministry of Finance, Parliamentary Select committee on Health, National AIDS control program and Mr. Siapha Kamara – Chief of Party, People for Health.

Story by Nana Yaw Reuben Jr