The Chairman of the District Directors of Health Services (DDHS), on Thursday appealed to Parliament to set up a body to co-ordinate the activities of the bodies charged to enforce health laws in the country.
Dr Dolf Kofi Sutherland said: “In our dear country, enforcing the laws on health is fragmented. This is because different agencies that are to enforce laws on public health belong to different ministries which did not augur well as a country,” he stressed.
He was speaking at the 19th annual DDHS conference in Takoradi on the theme: “Effective Leadership at the District Level; the Key to achieving MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) 4 and 5: the Role of the DDHS.”
Dr Sutherland said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Ministry of Science and Technology enforced the laws on environment whilst the Ministry of Employment; Youth and Social Welfare and Ministry of Mines enforced laws on workers safety and health.
He said the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority under the Ministry of Transport enforced the law on driver safety.
He said other agencies such as Food and Drugs Board, Medical and Dental Council, Nurses and Midwives Council implemented the laws for the Ministry of Health.
Dr Sutherland said these fragmented bodies did not allow for proper monitoring and improved services delivery.
“We as DDHS are therefore appealing to the Minister of Health to use his influence in Parliament to set up a body like the Health and safety Commission in the United Kingdom to co-ordinate the activities of all these enforcement agencies,” Dr Sutherland added.
He said belongingness to an identifiable body could help improve the health of Ghanaians and also prevent the blame game as it happened between the Ministry of Environment and Health during the recent cholera outbreak.
Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Health lauded the contribution of the DDHS towards the improved performance in immunisation, reduction in child mortality and maternal mortality, improvement in family planning and Tuberculosis treatment among other health indicators.
He said the work and progress towards achieving the MDGs emphasised that specific targets should be critically reviewed, adding that many Ghanaians still did not have access to quality health care.
“The quality of services is perceived to be poor, there are wastages in our operations and we have not maximised intra and inter sector linkages and community interface to increase uptake of health service,” he said.
Mr Chireh tasked the health workers to meet the expectation of the people they serve at the grassroots, saying it remained a huge responsibility on them as leaders.
“You have oversight responsibility not only of the institutions and facilities at the district level, but also the service as the chief health advisers.”
The Minister charged the DDHS to abreast of policies and development taking place in the health sector to enable them to discharge their leadership role effectively.
Ms Emelia Arthur, Deputy Western Regional Minister called on the DDHs to be leaders that sustain change.
“In setting the standards for yourselves, you must not under play the relationship between resource availability and effective leadership,” she added.
The Deputy Minister said effective leadership was a journey and not a destination, stressing that the progress of such a journey should be reviewed periodically.
Ms Arthur therefore called on the participants to discuss effective leadership in the health sector and come out with strategies to improve upon their performance.
Dr Kwaku Karikari, Regional Deputy Director of Health Services noted that achieving the MDGs goal four and five were key among the eight MDGs, which directly affected women and children whose health should be assured to preserve the quality and quantity of the human resource base of the economy.