GHS to pilot Malaria Vaccine in April

Vacc Ghana News Compressed

Dr George Bonsu, National Immunization Programme Manager of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has hinted that GHS would pilot a Malaria Vaccine this April.

He said the two-and-a half year roll-out, would be in four districts within the Brong Ahafo, Central, Upper East and Volta regions, adding that, it would be reviewed and later, extended to the rest of the Country.

Dr Bonsu was speaking at the launch of a five-day Strategic Training Executive Programme (STEP) held in Accra for leaders in supply chain management, which as at now, has expanded to five countries in Africa.

It was organised by GHS and the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization (GAVI) in partnership with United Parcel Services (UPS) to provide healthcare personnel with soft skill, leadership skills and competencies identified with the private sector to enhance their performance.

He said, the selection of the pilot regions was based on their high prevalent rate of Malaria, child mortality pattern, among others.

The Programme’s Manager said the Vaccine would require four dose regiment and as the pilot phase is done, each child would get all the four doses.

The Vaccine, which would be administered based on age, would be given to children in not only Ghana, but also Kenya and Malawi, who are six, seven, nine and 24 months, Dr Bonsu emphasized.

This, he said, would set the stage for other African countries to enjoy the Programme being sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO), GAVI Support, GSK-manufacturers of the Vaccine, Global Fund and Government of Ghana.

He noted that a lot of tracking would be done, from the first dose to the fourth as all needed to get the full benefit.

Dr Bonsu said there was the need to get the community members on board as Malaria had become a problem of all and needed all hands on deck to eliminate it to reduce child mortality.

He mentioned other targeted diseases to be immunized against as Tuberculosis, Poliomeningitis, Rubella, Measles and Yellow Fever.

Dr Bonsu said vaccine container clinics would be established to facilitate the process and to ensure its potency, whilst a standby generator would be made available.

Planning and management resources, reaching targets, linking services and offering supportive roles, would be some of the strategic approaches to their successes, he stated.

He said the Unit would make good use of technology, provide support services to non-performed areas, do more campaign on Yellow Fever and others to improve their work.

Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, the Director-General of GHS said drone services would be provided to supply vaccines to the difficult to reach areas.

Mr Magloire Achidi, Supply Chain Consultant-GAVI commended Ghana for having one of the richest health systems in the region.

“The last statistics mentioned that the GDP coverage according to the WHO- UNICEF estimate, is up to 99 percent coverage,” Mr Achidi noted.

This is by far the coverage of many countries in Europe and America so, that demonstrates the willingness, enthusiasm and professionalism of you people who are doing that and supporting this course”, he said.

KATH Works At Improving Pregnancy-Related Diseases

Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Kath

The management of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) has announced plans to partner the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and other key stakeholders, to improve the management of fatal pregnancy-related in districts and other smaller health facilities in the country.

This is one of the most efficient and interim short term contingency measures singled out to bring down the rising incidence of maternal mortality in the middle part of the country, found to be caused to a larger extent, by these two pregnancy-induced conditions.

Dr Oheneba Owusu-Danso, Chief Executive of the second largest referral facility in the country, who made this known said, over 80 per cent of maternal deaths at the facility, were complicated cases referred from the lower health facilities within its wide catchment area.

Addressing the opening of the 2018 performance review meeting of the hospital in Kumasi, he said the effective management of such pregnancy-related diseases at the lower health facility levels, was crucial to reducing maternal deaths in the Country.

“Setting the pace for quality tertiary healthcare delivery through transformational leadership”, was the theme.

Dr Owusu-Danso pointed out that, though the construction of the ultra-modern maternal and child health unit had helped improve services for pregnant women requiring emergency care, maternal mortality continued to be high at the hospital.

The hospital recorded 123 maternal deaths in 2018 as against 102, recorded in the previous year.

Dr Owusu-Danso said the window of opportunity for saving women in pregnancy-related complications were short and it was imperative that appropriate interim management of such complications were made effectively at the lower hospitals, before their referral to KATH.

He said processes had started to cover the entire hospital with CCTV monitoring systems and acquire needed equipment for laboratory and radiological investigations.

Dr Owusu-Danso said competency and ability to deliver positive change for improved patient care was now the yard stick being used by the KATH Board to determine the headships of the units and directorates at the hospital.

He stressed the need for leaders of the various sections, units and directorates to draw inspiration from the theme of the meeting and evaluate their performance strategies to help transform the hospital into a true centre of excellence in tertiary health care delivery.

The Chief Executive urged the staff to be mindful of continuous quality improvement, efficiency and economy, by ensuring the judicious use of consumables and other resources entrusted in their care whiles also prioritizing the essential needs of patients.

GHS Council to Serve All Staff with Code of Conduct

Ghana Health Services (GHS)

Dr Sefah Bediakoh, Member of the Ghana Health Services (GHS) Governing Council, has said the Council is set to distribute about 70,000 copies of its code of conduct and disciplinary procedures to Regional and District Health Directorates.

He said management of health facilities across the country are encouraged to take all staff of the service through the document to ensure that they conduct themselves with all the ethics required of their work.

Dr Bediakoh said “our work as health workers borders on life and death and we must all make conscious efforts to save lives. No price is too high for this”.

He said this in Bolgatanga when he addressed the opening ceremony of the 2018 performance review meeting of the Upper East Regional Health Directorate on behalf of the GHS Council.

The meeting was held under the theme: “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals for Maternal and Child Health – the Role of Technology.”

The programme, which was chaired by the Paramount Chief of the Bongo Traditional Area, Bonaba Baba Salifu Atamale Aleemyarum, brought together officials from the Eastern Regional Directorate of the GHS, Municipal and District Directors of the Service, Medical Superintendents, Health Services Administrators, development partners, stakeholders and the media.

“While we recognize and express our great appreciation to your contribution to service delivery in the health sector, it is important for us to be sensitive to some of the negative comments that are said about us in the health sector,” he said.

Dr Bediakoh urged all health staff to be mindful of the peculiarity of their work and live up to the standard disciplinary requirements of the Service.

He said the Council calls for collaboration between the GHS, political and traditional leadership, non-state health service actors such as the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) to engender good performance.

Dr Bediakoh said the Council, which was inaugurated in September 2017 as the 5th since the inception of the GHS in 1996, has carried out number of activities.

He said the Council has reviewed and approved about 113 appointments into management positions such as Deputy Directors, Programme Managers, District Directors, Medical Directors and Superintendents, 27 appointments into Senior Specialist and Consultant grades, and 240 promotions into exit grades such as Deputy Chief and Chief grades.

Dr Bediakoh said the Council has secured the necessary approval to upgrade the Health Promotion Department currently under the Family Health Division to a Divisional status which would be out-doored in the first week of April.

This, he said, would strengthen health promotion capacities as a strategy to address the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension in the country.
Dr Bediakoh said the Council has embarked on the development and growth of Medical Tourism in Ghana.

“The Greater Accra Regional Hospital at Ridge is intended to be used as a pilot to support the development and growth of Medical Tourism in line with the Government’s Agenda of making Ghana the destination for Health Tourism in the ECOWAS sub-region.”

Assin Fosu Municipality OPD Cases Topped by Malaria

malaria

Regardless of all the multifaceted interventions employed by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to drastically reduce malaria infections, it remained the highest of all Out-Patient Department (OPD) cases in the Assin Fosu Municipality of the Central Region.

Reported cases of Malaria increased from 41,006 in 2017 to 45,219 in 2018 representing 43 per cent of all OPD cases and ranked first among 10 top diseases recorded in 2018.

It was followed by upper respiratory tract infections, rheumatism, anaemia, skin diseases, acute urinary infection, hypertension, gynecological conditions, diarrhea, and intestinal worms in that order.

Mrs Regina Tagoe, the Municipal Director of Health Services, said this at the Annual Review Meeting of the Health Directorate at Assin Fosu.

She attributed the increase to lack of strict adherence to health advice on malaria prevention and that regardless of the abundant supply of test kits, especially for those in the villages and hinterlands, people were still reluctant to go for the test.

Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria was key intervention to reduce its prevalence, she noted, adding that children under five years and pregnant women were at high risk.

Mrs Tagoe said pregnant women must attend antenatal clinics regularly and take their anti malaria drugs to protect them from the disease.

Also, they should use insecticide treated nets to help prevent malaria while deprived communities without microscopic diagnosis services could use the Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) for ready results.

“Treated nets do not only repel mosquitoes, but also protect you from harmful and nuisance insects, giving you a good night’s sleep,” she said.

Mrs Tagoe called for attitudinal change among the people to help deal with the sanitation challenges confronting the Municipality.

She said the rate of the disease outbreak and deaths among Ghanaians would be reduced if sanitation issues were adequately addressed.

Aurum Institute Ghana Throws Weight Behind TB Case Finding Mission

Aurum Institute Ghana supports TB case finding intervention

The Aurum Institute, Ghana, a public benefit not for profit Organisation, on Monday, presented six motorbikes to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and its implementing partners, the Afro Global Alliance and Ghana TB Voice Network.

The presentation was jointly done by Dr Nii Nortey Hanson-Nortey, the Country Director of the Aurum Institute, Ghana and Nana Ahunabobrim Prah Agyensaim VI, the Omanhene of the Assin Owienkyi Traditional Area, and National TB Ambassador.

Dr Hanson-Nortey explained that, the support was to facilitate the implementation of a Tuberculosis (TB) case finding intervention project, which was currently ongoing in the Accra and Kumasi Metropolitan areas, to help increase national case finding.

He said each Metropolitan Health Directorate would be assigned three of the motorbikes to facilitate the collection of sputum samples from partner health facilities to designated laboratories for quick results, to ensure fast treatment of patients.

He said although the country was supposed to diagnose about 45,000 TB cases, it was currently doing only about 15,000, leaving a gap of about 30,000 missing cases, hence the need to work towards finding these people and provide them with the needed treatment to eradicate the disease.

Dr Hanson-Nortey said his outfit, which was also an affiliate of Aurum Institute NPC of South Africa, had been working with the Government of Ghana to improve the health of people and communities living in poverty, through innovation in global health research, systems and delivery towards the eradication of TB and HIV and was committed to the cause.

He further explained that the two cities, was selected for the project primarily because of their high records of reported TB cases and malnutrition, due to factors such as the population density, high slum areas, and congestions among other things, which were all factors that resulted in the spread of the disease.

“It is also because they have the highest aggregation of private sector health institutions for partnership to bring down TB”, he said.

He said so far 13,000 people had been screened since the intervention, of which 73 new TB cases were identified, and that, the project uses community soccer galas to attract the people, who were then given education on the symptoms of TB and treatment available, and would soon engage community pharmacists in both cities in the “Know your Lung Status” campaign to create more awareness.

Nana Ahunabobrim Prah Agyensaim VI, said testing and treatment for TB was free, and urged the public to take advantage and seek early treatment to prevent the needless deaths resulting from TB in Ghana.

He also complained about the high rate of stigmatisation which was hindering progress being made towards the eradication of the disease, and urged the media to intensify public education and awareness creation and called for more private sector partnerships to achieve the desired outcomes in TB prevention.

Mr Kingsley Addo, a Representative from the Accra Metropolitan Health Directorate thanked the Aurum Institute for the initiative and support, attesting to the fact that there has been an improvement in the TB case findings in the Metropolis as a result of the intervention.

KOICA hands over to GHS refurbished mechanical workshop

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) on Tuesday presented a refurbished mechanical workshop valued at about $7000 to the Upper East Regional Health Directorate.

The facility comprises a diagnostic machine, an automatic compressor, a car lift, and tire changing machine, a set of mechanic’s tools, an alignment and balancing machine, and a hydraulic jack.

The workshop, which would assist the GHS service and maintain its vehicles and other vehicles within and outside the Region, is opened to members of the public including government and non-governmental organizations.

Speaking at a brief ceremony to commission the facility, Madam Myeongseon Kim, Manager of the KOICA CHPS-Plus project in the Region, said the Government of the Republic of Korea through KOICA, pledged to support the CHPS-Plus project to strengthen the CHPS system in all the 13 operational Districts in the Upper East Region.

She said one of the specific objectives of the project was to strengthen the health system and enhance supervision at all levels and establish Sustainable Emergency Referral Care (SERC).

This, she said, could be effective if the maintenance system for the vehicles were well established and working effectively, adding that “the project found it appropriate to sponsor the refreshment of the Ghana Health Services (GHS) Regional Mechanical workshop.”

Madam Kim said a well-maintained transport system would enhance supervision and referral care adding that the workshop would serve as source of income generation to the Directorate to maintain and replace worn-out equipment and parts.

Dr Winfred Ofosu, the Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, said “the available equipment at the workshop makes it the ideal place for maintenance of our vehicles and fleet of motorbikes.”

He described the workshop as “state-of-the-art” and “one-in-town” facility equipped with modern machines and professional staff to service and maintain all kinds of vehicles.

Dr Ofosu said the GHS has official accreditation to TVS motorcycles and was negotiating in the same direction towards Toyota and Nissan vehicles.

Mr Herbert Raymond Appiah, Project Manager of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), expressed gratitude to the GHS and KOICA for the collaboration and trust reposed in the UNOPS to procure medical and non-medical items for all districts in the Region.

He said KOICA engaged the UNOPS to extend its expertise in procurement and logistics to complement their efforts to support the CHPS–Plus project, adding that the mechanical workshop was among the 4,000 medical and non-medical items procured under the project.

GHS asked to make available safe abortion services

abortion

Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu, the Chief Executive Officer of Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), a human rights advocacy media Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has called on the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to make safe abortion services available.

He said because safe abortion and other sexually reproductive services were not readily available in communities’ unreported cases of unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted infections among adolescents were remained high.

Speaking at a stakeholder’s forum held at Afransi in the Gomoa East District of the Central Region, Mr Ahenu stressed the need for the GHS to create avenues for adolescent boys and girls to access sexual reproductive health care services.

GLOMEF, with support from AmplifyChange, an international NGO is currently implementing a one-year project titled “Voice of Change Project” in the District.

Its objectives are to increase engagement among service providers to actively support sexually reproductive healthcare services and rights for people in the area and also seeks to build the capacity of 20 Journalists to understand and increase media coverage on sexual reproductive issues.

Mr Ahenu said research showed many young women could not easily access family planning services to help them guard against unwanted pregnancies.

He said access to family planning services, and use of contraception remained basic health rights that must be available to all class of people, as clearly stated in the UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action (PoA), held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994.

ICPD’s consensus framework is aimed at giving comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), based on a human rights framework and inclusive of family planning, maternal health, prevention of STIs, and adolescent reproductive health.

Mr Ahenu said despite international and national policies in support of sexual and reproductive health services and rights, many Ghanaians, particularly, girls and women were unable to access the services, due to factors such as; early marriage, low socio-economic status, low levels of education, illiteracy and poor access to healthcare.

The factors affect the lives and productivity of women and girls who cannot fulfil their rights to education, health, and work.

Mr Stephen Tie-Toh, the Gomoa East District Director of Ghana Health, said access to family planning services remained one of the most cost-effective interventions to prevent maternal, infant, and child deaths.

Family Planning interventions contribute to reducing poverty, increasing gender equity, preventing the spread of HIV, reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies, and lowering infant deaths.

Mr Tie-Toh said lack of access to family planning and contraceptive information, education, and services remained a major factor contributing to surge in teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortion in the country.

Mr Benjamin Kojo Otoo, the Gomoa Central District Chief Executive, stressed the need for the GHS to create a better environment for adolescents to access family planning services and commended GLOMEF and its partners for the project.

Onchocerciasis Expert Committee Releases Communique

Ghana Health Service

The Ghana Onchocerciasis Expert Committee (GOEC) has issued a communique after deliberations at its fourth twice-yearly meeting convened by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in Accra.

The meeting which was attended by GOEC Committee members included; disease experts and representatives from the GHS Neglected Tropical Disease Programme (NTDP), partners from institutions including; the World Health Organisation, Act to End NTDs, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Sightsavers.

The GOEC reviewed the draft strategy document on onchocerciasis elimination in Ghana prepared by the Ghana Health Service (GHS), which included; a comprehensive epidemiological,
entomological and intervention review of onchocerciasis in Ghana and guidance on treatment strategies, monitoring and evaluation, exclusion mapping, pre-stop Mass Drug Administration (MDA) and stop- (MDA) surveys, post–treatment surveillance and post-elimination surveillance.

The Expert Committee decided that programme activities covering drug distributor training, supply chain management, supervision, retention of volunteers, social mobilisation, data reporting and monitoring and evaluation should be intensified with the view to carry out pre-stop MDA surveys in 2020 and the attainment of the elimination of onchocerciasis by 2025.

It therefore recommended that an operational research proposal elaborating intensified and improved training, as well as other programmatic activities should be written, and this should include; protocols for independent evaluation of these events, which were aimed at improving the effectiveness of MDA.

The Committee heard presentation by the GHS-NTDP Experts including; Mr David Agyemang, Dr Nick Opoku, Dr Rory Post, Dr Martin Walker and Dr Mike Osei-Atweneboana.

It commended the NTDP on the strong progress made towards the elimination of onchocerciasis in the Asukawkaw-Dayi transmission zone, and anticipated that pre-stop and stop-Mass Drug Administration (MDA) surveys would be indicated for implementation in the near future.

The NTDP was encouraged to proceed with the publication of its nationwide results on breeding site prospection, verification and data quality assessments of MDA treatment data.

The Committee also recommended to the NTDP to formally request for entomologists and qPCR equipment (for special tests), that would be required in preparation for pool screen, and ELISA (a special laboratory test tool), for future stop-MDA assessments.

It was recommended that for now, known entomologists be encouraged to support the Programme and that the CSIR laboratory, would be appropriate for conducting future entomological pool screen as well as the ELISA test.

The report said the Committee was pleased with the parasitological and entomological data presented by Dr Osei-Atweneboana, indicating that the success of biannual MDA in communities historically was reported as responding poorly to the annual ivermectin MDA.

The Committee commended Dr Opoku on the on-going clinical trials of moxidectin and the triple-drug (ivermectin, dietylcarbamazine and albendazole, IDA) in Ghana, and looked forward to his continuing participation in the GOEC.

The communique said the Committee would consider the recommendation by Dr Rory Post on extending northwards the Asukawkaw-Dayi transmission zone based on a comprehensive review of the geographical distribution of blackfly cytospecies in Ghana.

Mr Agyemang made a presentation on the serological data from the Sightsavers and Task Force for Global Health dried blood spot pre-validation survey undertaken in 2016.

The GOEC however recommended that in the light of the new data which cast doubts at the low prevalence level at the area as assessed by the 2017 epidemiological survey conducted by the NTDP, the previously proposed pre-stop MDA evaluations could not go ahead in the north of the Oti-Daka transmission zone.

It recommended that in the meantime MDA be continued in this transmission zone.

A sub-committee led by Mr Agyemang identified and proposed solutions to programmatic difficulties that may be contributing to sub-optimal programme effectiveness.

Pregnant Women Advised to Seek Early Antiretroviral Therapy

pregnant

The Sunyani Municipal Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has urged pregnant women to report early to hospital to start Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) to protect their unborn babies from possible HIV infection.

According to the Directorate, the early report to the clinic for the ART services could reduce the incidence of mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus.

Dr. Mrs. Paulina Appiah, the Municipal Director of Health Services gave the advice in Sunyani when she addressed the 2018 annual performance review meeting of the Directorate which was designed to build on the progress made in the health services delivery in the Municipality.

The one-day event on the regional GHS theme “Attaining Universal Health Coverage through Effective Leadership and Governance” was attended by about 90 participants from various stakeholder organisations and institutions.

They included; accredited staff of the Directorate, selected personnel of public and private health providers, the Municipal Directorate of the Ghana Education Service, the Security Services, the Municipal Assembly, traditional leaders and health-centred Non-Governmental and civil society organisations.

She said one of the major objectives of the Directorate was to intensify prevention and control of communicable diseases and reduce new HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STI), especially among the vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, adolescents and female sex workers.

Dr Mrs. Appiah indicated that HIV prevalence in the Municipality was 2.3 per cent in 2018 compared to 2.5 per cent in 2017 adding that “187 pregnant women tested positive in 2018 with 10.8 per cent of exposed babies testing positive compared to 160 in 2017 with 2.9 per cent of babies testing positive”

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Dr. Mrs. Appiah expressed worry that “the Directorate does not appear to have control of the HIV situation in the Municipality”.

She therefore stressed the need for stronger and better collaboration with the Municipal Assembly to access the 0.5 per cent HIV funds for the Directorate to intensify HIVAIDS prevention sensitisation and education campaign within the Municipality.

The Sunyani Municipal Health Director reiterated that the GHS was making relentless efforts to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV to less than 5 per cent for elimination of it.

She said the main challenge was the failure of pregnant women to report to designated health facilities early to start the ART.

Dr. Mrs. Appiah therefore emphasised that every pregnant woman must be tested to know her HIV status so that positive ones would be put on ART to prevent infection on unborn babies.

She touched on a number of programmes organised that pertained to the achievement of the objectives of the Directorate for improved and effective health care services in the Municipality.

Dr. Mrs. Appiah cited free health care services and screening in hypertension, HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis, condom distribution and provision of vaccination services for children as some of the public programmes and services the Directorate undertook within the year under review.

On staff attrition, she suggested the need “to train new staff on provision of care and implement the treat all policy”.

48% of HIV Infected Infants in Ghana Gets Screened

First lady launch free to shine campaign

As at September 2018, Ghana had screened 48 per cent of all HIV-exposed infants (HEI) with five per cent being HIV positive.

This implies a mother-to-child HIV transmission rate of five per cent in the country, Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, the Deputy Director General of Ghana Health Service (GHS), announced on Thursday.

She said this at the launch of the “Free to Shine” campaign, an initiative by the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, which is aimed at eliminating Mother-to-child HIV transmission in Ghana.

Dr Quansah Asare said there was the need for all stakeholders to be committed to efforts at preventing mother-to-child transmission to save Ghanaian children.

She disclosed that in 2018, almost 1.7 million HIV tests were done in Ghana with females forming 80 per cent of the numbers tested.

Almost half of the females tested were said to be pregnant women (864,266) out of which 1.6 per cent (13,802) were HIV positive.

Dr Quansah Asare said about 86 per cent (11,820) of all pregnant women testing HIV positive were given anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

“We also tested almost 500,000 pregnant women for syphilis with 2.8 per cent (13,636) positives identified and 96 per cent (13,098) of the positives given treatment,” she said.

She charged all those committed to the fight against HIV and AIDS to work together to ensure that every HIV-positive mother is diagnosed early and put on ART for life to prevent transmission to the next generation.

Dr Quansah Asare said there was also the need to identify and screen every HIV-exposed infant so that the positive ones could be put on ART to keep them alive “so we can have a happy family”.

She said the test for syphilis could be done at the same time as the HIV test and called on pregnant women to do the two tests together to help protect the next generation.

Government, through the GHS, was building healthcare worker capacity to provide quality HIV care across the health delivery system.

The National AIDS Control Programme was also on the drive to decentralising ART provision so every positive pregnant woman could get ART at point of diagnosis without being referred to another facility.

The Deputy D-G advised all women who wish to get pregnant to test and know their HIV status before they conceive, while every man should test for their status so they would not infect their unborn children with the virus in case they were positive.

My Kyeremeh Atuahene, the Acting Director General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, indicated that with the nearly 1,160,000 expected pregnancies in 2017, 28 per cent of the pregnant women missed the opportunity to test and 33 per cent of them needing the life-saving ART never had the opportunity to receive treatment.

He, therefore, emphasised the need for all stakeholders to support the Free-to-Shine campaign to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ghana.

The Free to Shine Campaign, a continental initiative of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA), the African Union and the UNAIDS, has come in handy to support and accelerate elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission in the country.

It has the theme; “Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission: the Key to an HIV-Free Generation and Keeping Mothers Alive,” and was launched in Ghana in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission.

In line with the theme, the Campaign seeks to achieve zero HIV infection in children by 2020, end AIDS in children by 2030 and keep infected mothers alive and healthy.

The Free to Shine Campaign, the First Lady said, would deepen efforts and make it possible to end HIV and AIDS in children in Ghana within the next two years.

National Guideline for Cancer Management in Ghana Launched

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare (left) exchanging pleasantries with Dr Baffour Awuah, Special Advisor to the Minister of Health, after the launch. With them is Mr Joao Paulo Magalhaes (middle), the Country Manager, Roche Product Ghana. Picture: EDNA ADU-SERWAA

The Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service (GHS), in collaboration with Roche Ghana Limited, a Pharmaceutical Company, at the weekend launched the first National Guideline for Cancer Management in the country.

The 126-page Document was developed by a team of experts including surgeons, oncologists, paediatricians, pharmacists, obstetricians, gynaecologists, nutritionists, haematologists and epidemiologists.

The National Health Insurance Authority, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations were also involved in developing the Document, which was led and fully funded by Roche Ghana.

The Document is a follow-up to the National Strategy for Cancer Control in Ghana and provides tools and knowledge for various categories of health practitioners to make decisions regarding cancer patient care at their levels of competence.

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the GHS, who launched the Document in Accra, explained that although the National Strategy for Cancer Control provided information on policy and the basis for control, it did not contain sufficient information on management.

He, however, commended Roche for the support and stakeholders for the extensive work and invaluable contributions towards the successful development of the Document.

“As a surgeon, I am all too aware of the havoc cancers cause in our society. This Document will contribute in no small way to reversing this trend,” he said.

Dr Nsiah-Asare said the Document was user-friendly with clear guidelines on activities for respective cancers at the various levels of care including referrals, while well laid out procedures were made available for easy usage by all healthcare professionals.

There was also information on the various laboratory investigations with respect to the levels of care, he said, adding that the inclusion of the very basic level of the health system; the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS), in the Guideline, fitted very well in the country’s objective of achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Dr Nsiah-Asare noted that the Document also provided an opportunity for advocating for inclusion of other cancers in the benefit package of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

He, therefore, urged all to support the advocacy movement to ensure that the carefully thought out intentions of the Document to improve cancer care in Ghana was achieved.

He, however, said the current Guidelines was limited to the five most common cancers in Ghana, namely; breast, cervical, prostrate, lymphomas and childhood cancers, which were found to be amenable to curative treatment.

Childhood cancers, he explained, have now been included to complete the coverage of all age groups, and also because high cure rates could be achieved with standard care.

Dr Nsiah-Asare expressed satisfaction at the quality and detailed content of the Document and implored all healthcare practitioners to use it to benefit society.

Mr Joao Paulo Magalnaes, the Country Manager of Roche Product Ghana Limited, said the company believed that every cancer patient, irrespective of where they lived and financial status, deserved to be treated equally with the right standard of care.

This was the reason the Roche sponsored, financially, the development of the Guideline for the treatment of the five most prevalent cancers in Africa and congratulated the team of experts and their associate healthcare professionals for the good work.

He said Roche was the worldwide leader in cancer research and was very proud to have discovered and launched important life-saving medicines that brought hope to patients, their families and healthcare professionals.

Mr Magalnaes said apart from the several other innovative treatments being developed, the company would soon launch the first immuno-therapy that extended significantly the survival of breast cancer patients.

He said the Roche was also working with the GHS and MOH to ensure that Ghanaians also benefited from the innovations of the company with the aim to expanding its footprints to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ghana’s Trauma Care Checklist Unveiled

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Monday launched the World Health Organisation’s Trauma Care Checklist to be integrated into emergency service delivery in all healthcare facilities across the country.

The Trauma Care Checklist, which is a simple tool designed for use in emergency units, and emphasizes the key life-saving elements of initial trauma care, is developed to help improve the quality of services offered in health facilities, save lives and prevent disabilities in patients.

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, who launched the tool in Accra, said although true that timely emergency care saves lives and reduces disability, there was currently a great global disparity in access to emergency care.

He indicated that injury was responsible for more than 10 per cent of the global burden of diseases, killing more people each year than HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined, and more than 90 per cent of those deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries.

If fatality rates from severe injury were the same in low and middle-income countries as they were in high-income countries, between 1.5 and two million lives could be saved every year, he said.

Dr Nsiah-Asare said the checklist, therefore, reviewed key actions at two points, which involved immediately after the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ surveys, and before the health team leaves the patient’s bedside.

He commended the Ministry of Health, the AO Alliance, an International NGO, and the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, for the collaborative launch of the tool, saying it would help strengthen partnership at all levels of the health sector for sustained implementation as soon as possible.

With the tool, a systematic approach to every injured person ensured that life-saving interventions were performed to ensure that no life-threatening conditions were missed, he said.

Dr Nsiah-Asare, however, said the GHS had already put in place lots of measures to improve emergency care, and the introduction and use of Trauma Care Checklist was one of such actions to complement existing services.

The Service, he said, was looking forward to agencies and partners of Health to come on board and support in the roll over and train health personnel across the country for the effective implementation and use of the tool.

Dr Wilfred Addo, the Representative of AO Alliance, for English Speaking Africa, lauded the GHS for the initiative to integrate the use of the tool into emergency care as early as possible to improve care of patients.

He explained that although the WHO Trauma Care Checklist was first launched in August 2016 at the World Trauma Congress in New Delhi, India, and has been effectively used in countries including Canada, Colombia, Viet Nam, Rwanda, Australia, Thailand and Pakistan, it was adopted and further developed by the AO Alliance to suit the African contextual needs.

The tool was developed and validated through a large global collaboration, review actions at two critical points to ensure that no life-threatening conditions were missed and timely, life-saving interventions were performed, he said.

He said the tool was, therefore, appropriate in any setting delivering emergency care for the injured and could be easily adopted to local needs.

JICA Donates Vehicles to Ghana Health Service

JICA supports GHS with vehicles

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on Friday handed over the keys to 26 Nissan Pickup vehicles to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to support service delivery in the three northern regions.

Ms Ozawa Maki, a Senior Representative of JICA, presented the keys to Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service in Accra.

Ms Maki said in addition to the pickups, JICA would provide grant for the procurement of motorbikes to complement service delivery to areas where access by cars were difficult.

Dr Nsiah-Asare thanked JICA for its continuous support to Ghana’s health sector, saying it would go a long way to fill a huge gap in the health delivery system.

He mentioned the beneficiary districts in the Upper East Region as Pusiga, Binduri, Nabdam, Kassena Nankana West, Bawku Municipal, the Bolgatanga Municipal, Builsa North and South and Bongo.
Those in the Upper West Region were Sissala East and West, Wa East and West, Jirapa, Daffiama Bussie Issa, Nadowli-Kaleo, and Lambussie.

The Northern Region also had beneficiaries from the Mion, Sawla, Tuna and Kalba, Karaga, Saboba, Central Gonja, Chereponi, East Gonja and Zabzugu districts.

Dr Nsiah-Asare indicated that with the present support, all districts in the Upper West Region have been fully covered with “One District One Pickup”.

He said Ghana was poised to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the primary health care level by 2020, ahead of the deadline of 2030 through the support of partners and other stakeholders.

To achieve this goal, JICA had been supporting the Service in many ways to improve service delivery through Grant Aid for Community Health Planning and Services (CHPS) implementation, which was one of the country’s programmes and a key strategy towards attaining UHC and bridging the access inequity gap, he said.

Dr Nsiah-Asare said the support also included Technical Assistance in capacity building of health workers, designing of service delivery and management tools, as well as infrastructure and equipment.

He said the vehicles were to support activities of monitoring and supervision, training and any other Public Health-related activities at the districts, with the over-all aim of strengthening the quality of service delivery there.

He, however, asked regional directors to monitor and supervise the use of the vehicles and ensure they were not misapplied by the district directors for their personal use.
The Director-General further entreated all managers to ensure safety and regular maintenance.

Maternal mortality improves in Ghana, but country still far from target – report

birth

Out of 100,000 pregnant women who gave birth (live births) in Ghana between 2011 and last year, 310 died over the period, results of the 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey(GMHS) report launched here on Thursday indicated.

Although this is an improvement relative to the average of 451 deaths per 100,000 live births 10 years ago, acting Government Statistician Baah Wadieh urged the country to work harder to achieve the targets set for 2030.

“The survey provides a new estimate for an important indicator – the maternal mortality ratio. According to the 2017 GMHS, the maternal mortality ratio is 310 deaths per 100,000 live births during the seven years prior to the survey,” Wadieh disclosed.

He added; “It is worth the Ministry of Health Operational plan aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio to 203 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030. This is a clarion call to Ghana to prioritize maternal health care in order to meet the target.”

Presenting the report, Peter Takyi Peprah, head of field operations and coordinator for the Maternal Health Survey at the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), listed the causes of maternal deaths as infectious and parasitic diseases, bleeding during pregnancy and delivery, followed by hypertensive disorders.

As the absence of health facilities have been identified as a major cause of maternal and infant mortalities, government has been making strenuous efforts to bring health care close to communities through the provision of hospitals, polyclinics, clinics and Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds in addition to free maternal care across the country.

Gloria Quansah Asare, Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Services (GHS), conceded there was much more work to do to eliminate or reduce maternal mortality.

Although the report is not wholly what the country expects, the official said the progress was worthwhile as one cannot achieve all targets suddenly with a single step.

“At least, we have made progress. I am not saying we are happy that 310 women per 100,000 live births are dying, but we have come from 451, 10 years ago. We did not attain the Millennium Development Goals,” she stated “Well it is a bit slow. It is slow, but that is where we are now as a country,” she added.

As to whether the pace of development was not too slow Dr. Asare argued that survey results always contained mixed results.

“We are taking all in good faith as a health service and as a ministry of health and with all out partners. Not just the health sector. We should all deliberate on these figures seriously and work hard,” she added. Enditem

Ghana Health Service In Ashanti Region To Replace OPV With IPV

Ghana Health Service

The Ghana Health Service in the Ashanti Region is replacing all Oral administered Polio Vaccine with inject-able Ones.

The Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) is expected to ease the side effects experienced by Children who take the Oral Vaccines.

More than 200 thousand children above 14 days old are expected to benefit from the exercise which has been added to the immunization time table of the Health Service.

Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang, the Ashanti Regional Health Director, stressed that, the IPV is more effective than the other OPV which was previously used.

In terms of the safety profile, what we are introducing now is better and safer than what we have been using previously which is Oral Vaccine.

Dr. Emmanuel Tinkorang ended by pleading with the public, especially, Parents and the media to advocate what the Health Ministry is introducing.

He said this in an interaction with the media in a press conference at their Regional Office in Kumasi.

By:Osei K. Peter/Newsghana.com.gh

UE: Ghana Red Cross Society Expands MNCH Project

Red Cross

The Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS) has scaled up its Maternal, New-born and Child Health (MNCH) project to cover the Talensi and Pusiga Districts of the Upper East Region to cater for the health needs of expectant mothers.

The three-year project which started this year and is expected to end in 2020, is in partnership with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with funding from the Swiss Red Cross Society.

The GRCS under the first phase of the project which ended last year, formed Mothers Clubs with 15000 members spread across 80 communities within the Kassena-Nankana Municipal, Bongo, Nabdam and Binduri Districts, who were trained by the GHS to identify danger signs in pregnancy, care of new-borns and on how to advise expectant mothers on the need to access medical care at health facilities.

As part of the GRCS quest to improve on maternal and new-born care in rural areas, the beneficiary communities were provided with tricycle ambulances to transport women in labour to the nearest health facility for safe delivery.

The second phase of the project would include; Family Planning (FP), special care for pregnant teenagers, exclusive breastfeeding, and growth monitoring and routine vaccination in its activities.

Speaking at the launch of the second phase of the project in Bolgatanga, Mr Evans Kevi the Project Coordinator of the Swiss Red Cross in charge of the MNCH, said the project would train 40 new Mothers’ Clubs on maternal, neo-natal and child health care, FP, and further strengthen activities of the 40 existing Mothers’ Clubs in the other Districts.

He said the project would educate the communities about socio-cultural practices that negatively affected the health of expectant mothers and children, and would ensure that community leaders played critical roles to change the behaviour of their members.

Mr Kevi said as part of initiatives to improve on MNCH, activities, the Clubs would include home visits to provide counselling services, composition of educative songs in local dialects on maternal and child health issues, community durbars and accountability activities, night cinemas relating to MNCH and educative radio discussions among others.

Mr Joseph Abarike, the Upper East Regional Manager of the GRCS, said his outfit had the capacity to complement the efforts of the GHS to undertake public health education in communities and to further assist in routine immunisation exercises.

He was convinced that with support from government, the GRCS could help reduce its huge budgetary allocation to the health sector, especially with the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Mr Donald Adabre, the Regional Chairman of the GRCS, admonished staff of the GRCS and the GHS, members of the Mother Clubs and volunteers to work diligently to ensure that the second phase of the project was also successfully implemented.

Caption: Photo of MrEvansKevi, addressing the stakeholders

Northern Region: Red Cross Starts MNCH Project

Red Cross

A Mother, New-born and Child Health (MNCH) project has begun to contribute to reducing maternal and child mortality in four districts in the Northern Region.

As part of the project, 10 Mothers’ Clubs each have been formed in communities in the four districts and have been trained on maternal, neonatal and child health care and family related issues at the community level.

The Mothers’ Clubs sensitised communities on the Ghana Health Service’s (GHS) approved behaviour change messages including family planning and danger signs in MNCH behaviours as well as on danger signs in MNCH to ensure the well-being of pregnant women, lactating mothers and new-borns.

The three-year project (2018 to 2020) is being implemented by the Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS) in partnership with GHS and supported by Swiss Red Cross, and the beneficiary districts include; Saboba, Tatali/Sanguli, North Gonja and Kpandai.

To this end, the GRCS in partnership with GHS has held a project inception meeting for its stakeholders comprising district organisers of the GRCS, district Mothers’ Clubs facilitators and health promotion officers from the four districts to apprise them of their responsibilities for successful implementation of the project.

Mr Abdul-Rahamani Yussif, Northern Regional Manager of the Ghana Red Cross, who spoke during the meeting in Tamale, said the project would improve on knowledge, attitude and practices of community members, especially pregnant women and lactating mothers with regard to accessing antenatal and neonatal care.

According to the Northern Regional Health Directorate, a total of 130 women died during child birth at health facilities in the region in 2016 as against a total of 92 maternal mortality cases recorded in the region in 2015.

The figures also showed that 426 children from zero to 11 months old also died in the region in 2016, a situation the MNCH project seeks to reverse.

Mr Yussif said tricycle ambulances would be provided to targeted communities to help to transport pregnant women to health facilities to access health care to ensure safe delivery.

He said the project would engage community leaders and elders on enforcing some of the practices in their community to promote pregnant women’s access to maternal and neonatal care at health facilities and ensuring care for new-borns for up to five years.

He called on all stakeholders to work hard to ensure the success of the project such that other district would benefit from it.

Madam Gifty Nagbija, Health Promotion Officer at Saboba District, who was a participant at the meeting, lauded the project saying it would help to reduce maternal and child mortality in the beneficiary districts adding that the use of Mothers’ Clubs would help to change the behaviour of the people to patronise health facilities whiles pregnant.

60th Anniversary Celebrations of GMA Launched

Ghana Medical Association (GMA)

Dr Frank Ankobea, the President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on Wednesday, said the future was bright for the organisation in spite of the numerous challenges that confronted its members and the health sector in general.

The Association, he said, would however take bold steps into the future, guided by the toils and sacrifices of its forerunners and inspired by the determination and zealous support of its current membership and partners.

He said the GMA envisaged a strategically positioned Association that would maintain its role as a leader in the health sector, which was very relevant to its membership in meeting both their needs and aspirations, and further, playing a vital role with social partners such as government, employers, the media and civil society orgainsations to achieve quality health care for Ghanaians.

Dr Ankobea said these in an address at the official launch of the GMA’s 60th Anniversary celebrations in Accra, which was on the theme: “The Role of GMA in Healthcare: 60 Years On”

The launch attracted several dignitaries including Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, a former Minister for Defence, Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Professor Agyeman-Badu Akosa, also a former Director-General of the GHS among other health professional associations.

Dr Ankobea paid a glowing tribute to all the vision bearers and foundation members of the Association, past Presidents, Fellows, Executive Committee, present Council members, National and Divisional Executives as well as the general membership for their hard work which has sustained the GMA till date.

He said the GMA had paid its due to national development as an advocate, partner and an important labour union, with its members making various sacrifices and continue to do same to improve the health of the country.

It has also remained relevant over the years, being guided by the philosophy rooted in the belief that “the good health of the people of Ghana is the total wellbeing of the people and not the mere absence of disease”, and continuously sought to ensure this through participation in the development and maintenance of the highest possible standards of healthcare delivery.

“The Association has strived to maintain the honour, dignity and professionalism of the medical and dental professionals in Ghana through self-regulation of practitioners”, while remaining committed to the welfare of its members and other health professionals to achieve optimal heath care delivery, he said.

Dr Ankobea said the theme for the celebrations, therefore presented a key opportunity for deeper reflections, and stressed the need for strengthened collaboration to address present challenges and gaps in the health sector in order to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals.

He noted that 60 years in the life of an organisation was a significant milestone that was worthy of celebration, giving a brief history of the GMA as the first professional association to be formed in jubilant post independent Ghana, and recognised by government.

He said the GMA had occupied its rightful place on the international front fostering global health through strategic partnerships and membership of international organisations such as the British, Commonwealth, World and the African Medical Associations respectively.

And as labour Union, it played diverse roles to improve on the working environment of its members and other health personnel, creating a harmonious industrial relations climate to the benefit of both employer and employee.

“The policy of the Association in industrial relations has always been one of dialogue and non-confrontational engagements, though in some instances the Association has had to take painful decision of withdrawal of services”.

He said Association played key roles in the negotiations for the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP), the first ever Codified Conditions of Service document and the launch of the Strategic document to guide activities of the Association, and also spearheaded the establishment of the various Medical Schools and institutions including the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The College, he said currently provided higher professional education to members, leading to a reduction in the brain drain of doctors and other health professionals to Europe and the USA for such academic advancements.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police Dr Ebenezer Ewusi-Emmim, the Chairman of Anniversary Planning Committee, said as part of the launch, there would be an anniversary lecture by Prof. Akosa, on the achievements of the GMA over the past 60 years, and a public lecture in July 2018 as well as divisional and national outreach programmes.

He said Eastern Division would host the 60th Anniversary Annual General Conference in Koforidua from November 7 to 11, 2018, and thanked all the Committee members for their dedication to the task of planning.

Mr Agyeman-Manu, on his part congratulated the Association for its numerous achievements, partnerships, role in national policy development, and commitment of members to quality health care delivery.

He however said called for further investment in the quest to attain UHC, saying that key facilities such as the Community-Based Health Planning Services (CHPS) compounds were already in place to ensure primary health care delivery, existing district and regional health facilities must be re-tooled for effective service delivery.

Mrs. Bawumia Unveils ‘The Safe Delivery Project’ in East Gonja

Mrs Samira Bawumia in veil launching the "Safe Delivery project" in Salaga

The Second Lady, Mrs Samira Bawumia, on Thursday launched ‘The Safe Delivery Project’ in the East Gonja Municipality, aimed at helping reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in the area.

The second lady, through the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Project (SEHP) is aimed at contributing to the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality through training, education as well as provision of well-resourced birth kits to expectant mothers.

The project dubbed: “Promoting safe deliveries and ensuring healthy infants; Securing our future”, seeks to improve the survival of mothers and newborns, by tackling the causes of maternal and neonatal mortality, particularly Postpartum Hemorrhage, Hypertensive disorders, as well as Infections.

Mrs Bawumia speaking at the launch at Salaga, said the project sought to transform the lives of expectant mothers as well as improve their reproductive health to ensure the achievement of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals’ target of 70 per 100,000 births worldwide.

She said the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) continued to implement evidence based and high impact interventions aimed at reducing the high incidence of maternal and neonatal mortality.

Mrs Bawumia indicated that, despite the gains made at reducing the incidence of maternal and neonatal cases in the country, health institutions were hampered with challenges such as inadequate funding, lack of adequate human resource and insufficient supplies.

As part of the project, the second lady presented birth kits to some registered expectant mothers who were within their third trimester of pregnancy to help ensure safe deliveries.

The birth kits contains supplies such as methylated spirit, sterile blade, delivery mat, a pair of sterile gloves, gauze swabs, cord ties, combined dressing, name tag, cord clamp, cot sheet, baby hat as well as medicated soap.

Over the next few years, SEHP aims to provide up to 100,000 well-resourced birth kits to expected mothers in the country to help reduce the incidence of maternal and neonatal mortality.

Mr Salifu Saeed, the Northern Regional Minister in a speech read on his behalf, said primary health was paramount towards the development of the country, urging residents to take every opportunity of the project to improve health care in the area.

He said the vast region, coupled with the poor road network to various health facilities and the inability to absorb adequate trained health personnel poses challenges in the health sector affecting health care delivery in the Region.

Mr Mohammed Tamimu, Municipal Chief Executive (DCE) for East Gonja gave the assurance that the Assembly would partner the Health Directorate to ensure the effective implementation and monitoring of the project.

GHS advises the Ghanaian public against cholera

Ghana Health Service

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Thursday cautioned the public to ensure cholera is prevented since Ghana will be getting to the peak season especially during the rainy season.

In a news release signed and issued to the Ghana News Agency, Dr Nsiah Asare, Director General of the Ghana Health Service stated that cholera was a preventable disease and that citizens must endeavour to ensure safe water was made available and proper sanitation practices adhered to.

He said the signs and symptoms of cholera were frequent diarrhoea with or without vomiting adding that it was usually spread when faeces and vomitus of an infected person contaminated the water or food of another person and was swallowed.

He said cholera could be prevented by improved environmental sanitation, personal hygiene, drinking safe water and frequent hand washing with soap under running water.

Dr Asare said people with suspected cholera should report to the nearest health facility without delay since early reporting saves live.

He said persons with cholera lose lot of water and salt rapidly and become very weak and extremely thirsty.

He suggested that persons must receive early treatment to minimise the weakness progress which could gradually lead to death.

“Protect yourselves and families from cholera and other diarrheal diseases by drinking and using safe water, use latrines or bury your faeces, cook food well (especially seafood), eat hot meals, keep food covered, wash fruits and vegetables before consumption and keep kitchens and places where family bath and wash clothes clean at all times”, he advised.

He noted that activities in slums (urban and peri-urban), poor environmental sanitation, poor personal hygiene, poor food hygiene, displaced populations with unsafe water supply and poor sanitation, floods leading to contamination of domestic water sources and broken down water and waste disposal facilities were the risk factors for cholera disease and outbreaks.

He urged infected persons to prepare a solution (Oral Rehydration Salt, ORS), and start taking it immediately, “go to the nearest health facility immediately”.

He also advised breast feeding mothers to continue breastfeeding even when they had watery diarrhoea, or traveling to get treatment.

Cholera is an acute watery diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. Globally, it is estimated that 1.3 million to 4.0 million cases of cholera and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths due to cholera occur each year.

It is caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera and is a global threat to public health and a key indicator of lack of social amenities such as safe water, hygiene and sanitation.

Starting 1st June GHS will Begin using IPV

Ghana Health Service

The Ghana Health Service will from the 1st of June this year introduce the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) at the various child health clinics

The vaccines will be given to babies at 14 weeks old, Dr John Dadzie, of the Expanded Programme on Immunization announced at the commemoration of the World Immunization Week by the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health on Monday

The World Immunization Week celebration is on the theme: “Protected Together, Vaccines Work”

Mr Dadzie said immunization was one of the public health intervention strategies that had been very successful worldwide, reiterating that vaccines were safe and potent.

He also announced that Ghana was one of three countries in Africa that would soon be piloting a malaria vaccine.

He explained that a vaccine has been developed to combat malaria and in Ghana the vaccine would be piloted in the Brong Ahafo, Volta and Central regions, and urged parents especially mothers to patronize immunization programmes.

“Mothers should ensure that their children receive all the vaccines that they need to protect them from ill-health,” he said.

Dr Dadzie said vaccination was also an economic issue since parents will be unable to work if their children fell sick, saying, “If you are a trader and your child falls ill, you will be forced to stay with your child in the hospital, you cannot sell while the child is in the hospital.

Dr Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu, National Chairman of the Coalition of NGOS in Health, said there were a lot of gaps in urban immunization and urged government to strengthen the health system and increase investment in vaccines.

He also called on government to set up an immunization fund to ensure effective immunization and protection of children, since it would not only save more children’s lives but also strengthen our economy at large.

Dr Benarkuu said the role of civil society organizations cannot be under estimated since they brought on board social mobilization skills, alternative research, collaboration and demand for quality immunization services.

Dr Ebenezer Appiah- Denkyira, a former Director General of the Ghana Health Service, who was the guest of honour for the occasion, said there should be a universal coverage in the immunization programme.

He advised the Health Service staff to chase the communities with the health programmes and make it more attractive for people to patronize.

GHS put in-place measures to tackle tropical diseases

Ghana Health Service

The fight to control and eradicate skin-related neglected tropical diseases has been given added momentum by the acquisition of a fleet of vehicles and motorbikes in support of the national programme.

These cost US$600,000.00 and were bought with funds from ANESVAD, a Spanish NGO – partnering the Ghana Health Service (GHA) on the project.

The 18 Toyota pickups, three Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and 15 Yamaha motorbikes would be distributed to 15 selected districts.

These include Akuapem North, Akuapem South, Asante-Akim North, Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Ayensuano, Biakoye, Jasikan and Mpohor.

The rest are Nkoranza South, Sekyere Afram Plains, Upper Denkyira East, Upper DenkyiraWest, Upper West Akyem, Wa and Wassa Amenfi East.

Handing them over at a ceremony, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, Director-General of the GHS, urged Programme Managers and District Health Directors in places endemic with buluri ulcer, yaws and leprosy, to use the vehicles to support the integrated health system.

He expressed confidence that those diseases could be eliminated through an integrated approach to detection, prevention and management.

He added that mobility was critical to efforts at reaching the rural communities with quality healthcare services and thanked ANESVAD for its continuous support.

He called for all to work hard to deliver the intended outcomes.

Mr Godwin Asigbey, ANESVAD Representative in Ghana, said the organization was proud to have been associated with the drive to control buluri ulcer in the country over the last 10 years.

It had been working with the National Buruli Ulcer Control Programme and was now expanding the scope of collaboration to include yaws and leprosy.

Ghana records successes in malaria resistance management

malaria

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Monday said a major boost to its malaria control efforts has been made with the introduction of the second 3rd Generation action Indoor Residual Spraying (3GIRS) project, to tackle the insecticide resistance challenge.

The 3GIRS project, which is a four-year 65.1 million dollar Unitaid-funded market shaping initiative launched in 2016, is to expand the use of 3GIRS products as part of insecticide resistance management strategies in Africa.

The project is designed to overcome five conditions found in challenging markets which include limited demand, market instability, limited competition, high prices and absence of a strong evidence-base, showing cost-effectiveness and impact.

Dr Keziah L. Malm, the Project Manager for the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP), at a press briefing in Accra on Monday, said Ghana was heading for a breakthrough in its malaria resistance management by embracing a new product from Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese company, known as the SumiShield 50WG.

She said the SumiShield 50WG chemical was a new mode of action for Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) that has tested very effective against many mosquitoes that have already developed resistance to one or all of the major classes of insecticides currently available.

It is a colourless and ordourless chemical, has low toxicity, readily dilutes in water, is easy to handle and transport as they come in small sachets, with its active ingredient providing excellent control of malaria transmitting mosquitoes, therefore very valuable when used in insecticide resistance management strategies.

Dr Malm said the move was to support the NMCP, in their efforts to save lives, and in its malaria resistance management to sustain the gains made over the years especially, in reducing maternal and under-five mortality resulting from malaria.

However in spite of all the gains, malaria continues to pose a significant threat to the country’s public health, accounting for a huge number of In and Out-Patient records, increases the national and private sector health expenditure, and accounts for low productivity records due to consistent absenteeism of affected persons from their job schedules.

Dr Malm said insecticide resistance in malaria vectors has become one of the major issues of concern to stakeholders, saying although there has been a long history of using IRS for malaria control, which, has proven very effective in many countries including Ghana, the usefulness of the method was currently under threat due to the increasing resistance of all available classes of insecticides and many products containing them.

Due to this there has been calls for the need for new modes of action products, but the over 30 years silence, has resulted in the continuous use of old active ingredients like DDT, which presented many risks to the environment.

She commended Sumitomo the Chemical Company for the current breakthrough, saying the new active ingredient in the SumiShield 50WG, would address the IRS needs of communities, starting from Obuase in the Ashanti Region, where AngloGold Ashanti, runs an existing malaria control programme with other implementing partners, and would ensure a possible expansion to the three northern regions.

Ms Tina Mensah, the Deputy Minister of Health, said insecticides were now made more affordable for countries with a burden of malaria, with Unitaid, which is a multi-donor funded organisation, accelerating innovation in global health, and investing in new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria more quickly, cheaply and effective.

She said in 2017, with support from the NgenIRS project jointly implemented by the AngloGold Ashanti and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) VectorLink, a total of almost 400,000 homes were sprayed in the Upper East and West regions.

The overall goal of the NgenIRS project, she said, was to “Increase use of 3GIRS products in Insecticide Resistance Management Programmes”, and commended the team for their efforts in making this a reality.

She urged the NMCP and its technical vector control work group, particularly the Malaria and Vector Control Oversight Committee to ensure strict conduct, monitoring and reporting through their quarterly meetings to inform policy decisions.

Mr David McGuire, the Project Director, NgenIRS Project, admitted that the addition of SumiShield 50WG has created the much needed competition in the marketplace, which has led to lower prices and also made it possible for countries to implement sub-national rotation with new classes of chemistry for vector control.

Ms Alexandra Cameron, the Technical Manager, Unitaid, said over 60 countries including Ghana have recorded insecticide resistance to malaria, however “Ghana is the first country in West Africa to implement the 3GIRS in full scale”.

Mr Mr Samuel Asiedu, the Project Director for the AngloGold Ashanti Malaria Control Programme (AGAMAL), said there is the need for sustained supply of the SumiShield 50WG as the new tool for controlling the mosquito vector, and gave the assurance that the project would be expanded to other areas of the country to ensure the total eradication of malaria.

Mr Tsutomu Himeno, the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, praised the production Company, saying they were credible, trustworthy and produces high quality products of international standard.

Central Region: Poor Counselling Affecting Family Planning

family planning

The Central Regional Technical Working Group on Family Planning on Tuesday identified lack of proper counselling by some service providers as one of the basic problems militating against measures to increase acceptance.

They alleged that some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) providing family planning services often do not properly counsel the beneficiaries on the possible implications for clients to make informed choices in accepting a particular service.

The situation, according to them, had resulted in many beneficiaries requesting for reversal of their family planning methods citing personal, emotional and socio-cultural reasons.

The observations were made during a quarterly meeting of the Regional Technical working Group on Family Planning comprising of about 20 key stakeholders who are engaged in promoting family planning acceptance.

The stakeholders took turns to update the group at the meeting organised by the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The group sought to give quarterly briefings on successes, challenges and shared information and experiences on best practices to give backing to the implementation of Ghana’s Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan (GFPCIP) between 2016-2020.

GFPCIP reflects Government’s commitment towards increasing modern contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) to 30 percent amongst the married and 40 percent unmarried and sexually active women by 2020.

Mrs Stella Sackey, the Acting Chief Nursing Officer at the Regional Health Directorate who corroborated the story said some NGOs among others often offered free family planning health services without prior notification, supervision or collaboration from the GHS.

She noted that the GHS often got to know the operations of these NGOs when beneficiaries developed complications forcing them to report to hospital for treatment.

Mrs Sackey however, cautioned NGOs engaged in such services to work in tandem with GHS to protect and guarantee public health and safety.

Mr Michael Tagoe, an Official of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), mentioned the country’s deep-rooted cultural norms, attitudinal dilemma and structural barriers as blocks to promoting family planning acceptance across the region.

He called on Government to prioritise Guidance and Counselling units in schools to enable them offer comprehensive counselling service to students who formed a huge proportion of the country’s vital population segment.

Mr Tagoe said reproductive education was a basic part of life cycle which everyone needed to be abreast with and to facilitate human growth as well as informed choices in life.

The PPAG official encouraged young people to abstain from pre-marital sex, urging, those who were unable to control their sexual desires to use contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Mr Alan Paintsil, an Assistant Director at RCC who chaired the programme thanked the stakeholders for the tremendous support to improve the quality of health services, awareness creation on family planning services.

He expressed the eagerness of RCC to aid stakeholders to effectively engage the people to accept FP methods to reduce maternal deaths, sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs/STDs), unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions among others.

GHS is committed to Ghana’s Universal health Coverage programme

Director General of Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare

The Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare has reiterated the commitment of the Health Service to lead the country to achieve Universal Health coverage (UHC) before the United Nations (UN) end-line date of 2030.

The Dr. Nsiah-Asare disclosed this at a meeting of Senior Managers of the Ghana Health Service in Accra. The Senior Managers Meeting (SMM) is a bi-annual forum of the GHS and attended by Regional and National Directors of the Health Service as well as district managers, health partners and other stakeholders. The SMM is a platform used to review the Health Sector’s performance, assess ongoing interventions and to map out plans that serve to give direction for Senior Managers on priority areas for improving health care service delivery in the country.

While welcoming participants to the 2018 first SMM, Dr. Nsiah-Asare said the Ghana Health Service is resolved as ever to live up to its institutional mandate and challenges of making quality and affordable health care accessible to all . He argued that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) provides opportunity for securing financial access to health services for the population, what the Ghana Health Service believes could facilitate this process effectively are innovative payment mechanisms that would adequately fund health care delivery at the primary level. The Health Service is therefore focusing on forging partnerships with stakeholders to explore opportunities for accomplishing these objectives.

“The focus of the Health Sector going forward is to ensure Universal Health Coverage at the Primary care Level through financing mechanisms that will cover all CHPS zones, Health Centers, and Private Maternity Homes”. He said if we could do this, “Ghana will be achieving UHC at the primary level by 2020”. Looking beyond that the country could “then gradually progress and scale up health care eventually to cover secondary and tertiary health services” he stressed.

The Director General said notwithstanding some challenges the Sector experienced, there were improvement in a number of key areas in 2017. Among the indicators that registered improvement were Institutional Maternal Mortality Ratio, Stillbirth and Under-five Malaria Case Fatality rates. Others areas of improvement include EPI Coverage, CHPS coverage, Family Planning, and Skilled Delivery.
He observed that while the Health Service looks at building upon the successes chalked in 2017, particular attention will be paid to the areas that witnessed poor performance. Some of these areas that call for renewed focus include TB Case Notification rates, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission for HIV and high levels of Anemia in Pregnancy.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare cited over-aged vehicles, poor distribution of human resource and inadequate numbers of some critical health staff as some of the major limitations of the Health Sector and therefore hampering quality of health care services. He expressed his disappointment regarding some recent incidences of alleged misconduct by staff in some health facilities in the country and said the Health Service will not countenance any unprofessional conduct by an individual or group of persons. The Director General went on to disclose that leadership of the Health Service is currently cooperating with law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation into the alleged death of some persons reported to have received treatment at the New Senchi Health Center in the Eastern Region.

He said, the Service is working on strengthening collaboration with Private and Mission health facilities to improve data capture and service utilization. Similarly, the Health Service has begun to prioritize the application of Information Technology (IT) to address some of the bottlenecks and drive excellent health service delivery towards the achievement of the health related Sustainable Development Goals. He charged managers to take cue from the outbreak of H1N1 at Kumasi Academy and Lassa fever at Tema General Hospital and pay serious attention to surveillance to avert disease outbreaks.

While acknowledging the important contribution of development partners to the health sector, the Director General said the recent initiative to engage partners with the aim of aligning and harmonizing their assistance will continue as part of ongoing measures to achieve efficiency and to address critical gaps in the system. He appealed for support for his strategic initiatives among which include plans to provide every district with a new pick-up vehicle and every sub-district a motor bike to address urgent need of transportation for service delivery, monitoring and supervision at the lower levels.

In a speech read for him, the Minister of Health, Honorable Kwaku Agyemang Manu commended staff and management of the Ghana Health Service for their dedicated service to the nation and appealed to all health professionals to maintain high professional standards in the discharge of their responsibilities at all times. The Minister also used the forum to challenge the leadership of the Health Service to take urgent steps to address all problems relating to the management of funds secured by Government for health projects in the country.

In a solidarity message, the Chairman of the Ghana Health Service Council, Dr. Yaw Yeboah, said the Council is making every effort to provide the Health Sector with strategic leadership and oversight for the smooth and excellent delivery of quality and accessible health care service to the Ghanaian population. Dr. Yeboah underscored the importance of team work, partnership and collaboration and hinted that the Council is making efforts to forg collaboration with the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) and other key stakeholders in ways that create opportunities for achieving the objectives of the Health Service.

Speaking on behalf of Development Partners, the Country Representative of UNPFA Mr. Niyi Ojuolape commended the Government of Ghana for important social services initiatives such as the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Livelihood Empowerment Program, and the Community-based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) program, all of which in his opinion has helped to set Ghana on the path for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Mr. Ojuolape on behalf of the partners assured the Ghanaian Government of their commitment to support the President’s vision of “Ghana Beyond Aid” stressing that it is important for the country to sustain and expand the gains in the health sector especially in the area of family planning.

The 2018 first Senior Managers Meeting was under the theme “Strengthening Performance to Achieve Universal Health Coverage: Critical Review of the 2017 Performance.” The Forum was chaired by Ms. Gladys Ghartey of the Ministry of Finance.

Private Hospitals in Ghana Charged to Report Disease Outbreaks Promptly

Monkeypox disease

Private health facilities have been urged to promptly alert the Ghana Health Services of any strange diseases or unfamiliar health cases that are reported to their facilities to ensure timely response and intervention.

They should also improve on their community health surveillance and promptly inform the Service of suspected outbreaks of infectious and communicable diseases in their areas of operation.

Ms Grace Billi Kampitis, the Public Health Officer of the Kumasi Metro Health Directorate, made the call at the inauguration of the Buokrom Community Hospital at the Buokrom Estates in Kumasi.

The modern health facility is a partnership between the Naka Group of Companies and Plan Health Ghana.

It aims at offering modern quality primary healthcare to the people in the Community and its environs.

Ms Kampitis said private health facilities, which were closer to the people, were most often the first port of call for healthcare delivery for many in the communities.

She said it was, therefore, important for such facilities to be alert and quickly report outbreak of communicable diseases and infections to the GHS for quick response and intervention to halt the spread of such diseases.

She pledged the continued support of the Government to enhance training, capacity building and sharing of information with private health facilities to improve healthcare delivery in the communities.

Dr Oppong Pepra, a Director of Plan Health Ghana, said the facility had been registered by the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (HEFRA) and accredited by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

He said it would provide out-patients, in-patients, maternity, laboratory, surgery, pharmacy, x-ray, ultrasound scan, and ECG services among others to the Community.

Nana Owusu Pempah, the Chief of Buokrom, urged the people to see the facility as their own and support it to provide the needed services to improve their health status.

Ghana Health Service and Other Institutions Collaborate

From right; Dr. Koku Awoonor, Director Policy Planning Monitoring Evaluation Ghana Health Service; Dr. Anthony Ansiah-Asare, Director General Ghana Health Service; Melinda Tabler-Stone, Deputy Chief of Mission USAID; Sungsoo Kim, His Excellency the Ambassador of Korean; Mr. Kelvin Ntiamoah-Sarpong Representative of Sumsung Electronics

The Ghana Health Service has entered into collaboration with global telecommunication giant Samsung and Good Neighbors International, a Korean-based humanitarian organization to deploy tablet PCs using an android mobile version of e-Tracker for the capture and management of patients’ information at the Primary care level

The initiative, which is being piloted in three regions under the Digitization of Ghana Health Information System also has the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) that was signed.

The collaboration will see Sumsung Electronics provide 2, 950 Sumsung tablets to the Ghana Health Service through Good Neighbors Ghana. In the pilot regions, Upper East, Volta and Eastern, health workers at the community level will be trained on the application of the tool to capture and save all health data for transmission into the District Health Information Management System (DHMIS2).

Receiving the equipment at a launch in Accra, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare commended the partners for supporting the Ghana Health Service efforts to digitalize health information at the community level. Dr. Nsiah-Asare revealed that the donation of the equipment comes at a time that the Ghana Health Service under his leadership has resolved to tap into the world of ICT to drive the Ghana Health Service in order to provide excellent health service towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Dr. Nsiah-Asare said Ghana has the potential to achieve UHC in less than five years if the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service sustains the gains made over the years while accelerating the scale-up of evidence-based interventions for results. He used the forum to appeal to other partners to come on board the Digitalization of the Health Information System project to assist the Service roll out the tablet-based e-Tracker in the rest of the seven regions that are not covered under the pilot.

His Excellency the Ambassador OF Korean, Sungsoo Kim said the government and people of Korea are happy for the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of health sector in Ghana. He was hopeful the support will go a long way to help Ghana achieve her developmental goals.

In her remarks, the Deputy Chief of Mission, USAID Melinda Tabler-Stone observed that the Government of Ghana’s “Beyond Aid” vision deserves support towards strengthening information systems for informed decision making. She disclosed that USAID was happy to support such activities which focus on building local capacity and ownership as they fall within the United States Government foreign assistance policy.

A representative of Sumsung Mr. Kelvin Ntiamoah-Sarpong said Sumsung believes in using technology to improve life. “Sumsung as a Global Citizen has made a commitment to support health and education and it is in furtherance of this belief that the company is partnering with Good Neighbors and others to support health care delivery in Ghana.

The Managing Director of Good Neighbors Ghana, Iiwon Seo said his organization was excited for the opportunity to be part of efforts by the Ghana Health Services and partners to eliminate omissions, and improve on accuracy of health information.

Speaking in an interview, the Director of Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Koku Awoonor said it is unfortunate that in this era of technology, Ghana still uses a paper-based system to capture patients information. The pen and paper system Dr. Awoonor noted is fraught with challenges and although a lot of effort is made by nurses and managers to reduce the challenges such as data loss, omissions and other problems, it appears the weaknesses of that system will never go away. “With the paper and pen system, nurses and managers actually spend a lot of their time trying to get the right infromation as much as possible but no matter how hard they try some of the information is lost”Dr. Awoonor lamented.

“You know if there are problems with the quality of data and patients cannot also be tracked because the information is on a paper somewhere, then that affects quality of care and planning. How do we continue to work with this kind of system”, he querried. Dr. Awoonor stressed that with the current times of ICT, it was time Ghana got rid of the pen and paper system as a key step towards addressing the founddamental problems in the health care system.

He hinted that the Ghana Health Service is hopeful their efforts in the current project will attract other partners to come in and assist the Service to cover the rest of the country. “The idea is for us to provide every CHPS zone across the entire country with at least two tablets-based e-Tracker devices for data capture and health information management. We need transactional data accros board to make timely decisions affecting the health sector and health service delivery”, he said.

A data Management Expert with the Ghana Health Service Mr. Dominic Atweam said the tablet-based eTracker has an added advantage of the capacity to run offline. This means data can be entered on the application any time nurses encounter a client even if there is no internet service at that partiular moment. The information can then be uploaded onto DHMIS2 whenever internet service is availbale. He advised that as the country looks to replace the paper system with electronic data capture it will be important to target improvement in electricity and internet coverage across the country to make it easier to use the devises.

The Deputy Director Information, Monitoring and Evaluation of the GHna Health Service PPMED Dr. Anthony Ofosu was happy the goal of the Service to revolutionalize health information management system is gradaully coming to a reality.

Ghana Health Service Assisted with seven Cars

Dr. Nicholas Kanlisi, Rep of Columbia University (second from right) hands over keys of the seven cars to Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General (DG) of Ghana Health Service (third from right). Looking on are Dr. Gloria Quansah, Deputy DG and Dr. Koku Awoonor Director PPME

The Ghana Health Service has taken delivery of seven brand-new Standard Toyota Hilux Double Cabin Pick-ups to support the implementation of the National Program for Strengthening the Implementation of the Community-based Health Planning and Services Program (CHPS) dubbed CHPS+ initiative in Ghana.

The CHPS+ project is funded with a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to Columbia University and implemented by the Ghana Health Service in partnership with the University of Ghana Regional Institute of Population Studies (RIPS), University of Development Studies (UDS), and University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS).

Speaking at a ceremony to handover the vehicles, a Representative of Columbia University on the CHPS+ project in Ghana Dr. Nicholas Kanlisi said the vehicles have been provided to boost the project implementation activities through monitoring and supportive supervision by the national, regional and district implementation teams.

Receiving the keys to the vehicles, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare expressed joy for the support and said the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health is seeking measures to double its effort towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 of “ensuring healthy lives and promotion of wellbeing for all at all ages” including reducing maternal and child deaths as well as other premature deaths.

He said as a country, “it is uplifting to have the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Columbia University showing their commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by coming onboard to support the scale up of CHPS implementation and to further boost our efforts to achieve UHC”.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare disclosed that the CHPS+ initiative draws upon the lessons from a similar health system-strengthening program known as the Ghana Essential Health Intervention Program (GEHIP) which was piloted in the Upper East Region in 2010. The project aims therefore to test the transfer of GEHIP strategies to four districts in two regions namely Gushiegu and Kumbungu Districts in Northern Region and Nkwanta South and Central Tongu in Volta Region. Each of the four implementation districts also called System Learning Districts (SLDs) will receive a vehicle as well as the two Regional Health Directorates. The seventh vehicle will goes to the headquarters of the Ghana Health Service for monitoring to the regions.

The Director-General urged the beneficiaries to put the vehicles to good use so as to contribute towards the objectives of the project and the goal of the Ghana Health service. “The vehicles are provided for the purpose of ensuring the effective delivery of the project thus ensuring effective service delivery….the vehicles should not under any circumstance become personal vehicles thereby depriving the districts and project of their use” he stated. He entreated the managers to ensure the safety and regular maintenance of the vehicles and cautioned that he will personally monitor how they are used.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare went on to thank Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Columbia University, UNICEF, the Principal and Co-Principal Investigators of the project and the implementation teams for their commitment.

The Director Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Koku Awoonor, who is the Principal Investigator of CHPS+ Project said the core interventions of CHPS+ would be grounded in implementation research and capacity building of health staff. He said this would lead to increased knowledge and decision making by the health staff as well as increased and strengthened health workforce. The ultimate goal according to Dr. Awoonor is to increase service coverage and quality in the districts leading to improved population health. “We want these districts to become centres of excellence for primary health care services delivery. We will therefore be vigorously assessing the six CHPS implementation milestones and the fifteen steps as well as other processes for rapid CHPS scale up, foster leadership and capacity building with relevant training institutions as well as universities partnership learning platform for drive and direction in CHPS implementation” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the two CHPS+ implementation regions, the Volta Regional Director of Health Service Dr. Timothy Letsa said the vehicles constitute very important support to facilitate the delivery of the project and other health activities. Dr. Letsa thanked the Director General and the donors and appealed for more support to boost the delivery of health care services across the country.

GHS Moves Away From Manual Registry To Digital To Enhance Healthcare Delivery

Healthcare Delivery

In the wake of using modern information technology to address the hurdles in the health sector, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has received 2,590 Samsung Android tablets, which have special inbuilt e-tracking software devices, which would go a long way to support the digitisation of Ghana’s District Health Information Management System (DHIMS-2).

This would help the facilitate of sharing information across the healthcare sector in general, and as well as ensure evidenced-based management decision making and to promote transparency and ensure accountability.

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, upon receiving the devices from Samsung Electronics in Accra on Thursday 1st February, 2018, said the gadgets would be deployed in all functional Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) zones in the Upper East, Volta and Eastern regions appropriately.

“The facility would be very useful to frontline health workers in capturing and processing of all data, ensure accuracy and timeliness in informing policy decisions, and aiding in budgeting,” Dr. Nsiah-Asare said.

In his elaborations, he noted that, the “Rollout of Tablet-Based e-Tracker” was a partnership agreement between the GHS, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Korean International Coorperation Agency (KOICA), Samsung, Evaluate for Health, and the Good Neighbours.

According to him, all they sought to achieve is to change the old way of doing things by moving away from manual register, to real-time tablet-based digital registry, which would strengthening the planning initiatives at the central level, enable tailored supervision and management at the district level, and reduce inefficiencies in data capture.

Dr. Nsiah-Asare lauded the partners and however, called for support from other organizations for an expansion of the project to other regions to completely replace the paper-based reporting systems.

Mr. Kelvin Ntiamoah Sarpong, who is the Head of Mobile at Samsung Electronics also explained that, the project fell under the company’s Corporate Citizenship Initiative, believing that, technology has become the order of the day, by enhancing lives and also supports search and listing of people and upcoming events as well as others.

Mr. Kelvin said, the App supports the tracking of persons, captured information while being offline and then upload to the server when connectivity is effected.

Meanwhile, the Acting Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, Ms. Melinda Tabler-Stone also stated that, accomplishing President Nana Addo’s “Ghana beyond Aid,” fully, the need to strengthen information systems is very key with respect to informed decision-making, improve partner coordination as well as build country ownership.

“Similarly, the US Government is increasingly focusing on activities, which build on local capacity and ownership. Better management of health data would lead to improved response at the national level in addressing potential emergencies and epidemics.

This would enable the Government to invest in resources wisely and help facilitate long-term social and economic development,” Ms. Melinda noted.

In attendance were Mr. Sungsoo Kim, the Korean Ambassador to Ghana, leading partners, government officials, other stakeholders and many others.

By:Sammy Adjei/Newsghana.com.gh

USAID & KOICA Commended for Four CHPS Compounds

CHPS Compound provided by USAID/KOICA at Lotako

The Director General (DG) of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare has commended United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Systems for Health project and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for supporting community health services with the construction and donation of new CHPS compounds to four communities in Ketu North and South Districts of the Volta region.

The Director General’s remarks were contained in a speech read for him at a ceremony to handover the four new CHPS compounds at Latokor community in the Ketu South District. The beneficiary communities are Lotakor, Glitame, Kasu and Klenormadi all in the Ketu North and South districts of the Volta Region. The construction of the CHPS compounds was made possible by the partnership support of the two international development partners USAID Systems for Health project and KOICA in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service with support from the beneficiary communities.

The Director of Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Koku Awoonor who spoke on behalf of the Director General appealed to the Chiefs and people of the beneficiary communities to continue to rally support for all health projects in their areas and ensure they take advantage of the facilities to seek regular care for their health needs especially pregnant women, adolescents and children. Dr. Awoonor stated that the Ghana Health Service appreciates and recognizes communities as partners in health care delivery; a strategy that he said has worked well for the benefit of both the health service and communities in all parts of the country through the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) program. He appealed to the communities to provide security for the Community Health Officers (CHOs) posted to the facilities and support the health staff as well as the health committee and volunteers to work smoothly to support health care delivery. He reminded communities that CHPS have a limited role of providing health promotion, education, immunization, disease surveillance and emergency referral hence communities should be mindful not to overburden them with demands for drugs and treatment because that is not their core function. “We must endeavor to promote our health through diseases prevention and health education. The Community Health Officers are positioned to support your communities in this regard” he said

The USAID Ghana Country Mission Director Sharon Cromer said the importance of having a CHPS compound equipped where nurses are able to reside and provide 24-hour services is important for providing quality health care. She acknowledged the critical contribution of the communities to the project and said she was hopeful the community people would own and manage the facilities in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service for long lasting benefits.

The Deputy Country Director of Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Mr. Seungmin Oh in his speech observed that despite Government efforts the funding gap in the health sector is huge as a result one development partner cannot do everything alone hence, there is the need to harmonize the support in order to avoid duplication of resources. He said KOICA collaborates with USAID in other aspects of health delivery including the Project for Improving Maternal and Child Health in the Volta region, which ended recently and was hopeful that such partnerships among funders, government and communities will go a long way to improve health in Ghana.

In his address, the paramount Chief of the Klikor Traditional Area Togbe Addo VIII showered words of praise for the donors and the Ghana Health Service. While noting the importance of the health facilities to his people Togbe Addo VIII pledged his support and the communities’ assistance in maintaining and utilizing the facilities. He appealed to the community members to take their health needs and their family members seriously. He advised the communities to embrace family planning services in order to protect women and children and curb the population explosion in the area.

The four CHPS compounds each comprised of a fully equipped service area, water and sanitation facilities and staff accommodation.