President John Dramani Mahama, on Wednesday, inaugurated the National Medical Outreach Services at the Western Naval Command in Sekondi, announcing that government has invested more than $1 billion to improve health facilities over the past five years.
He said this has improved healthcare delivery to the citizenry and increased the average life expectancy of Ghanaians from 47 years as at the time of the country’s independence to 63 years at the moment.
He noted that currently, the development of countries globally are no more measured based on the size of their economies, natural resources or gross domestic product but their Human Development Index.
This, he said takes into consideration critical services such as access to healthcare services, clean water, electricity, rate of maternal and infant mortality and general welfare of the people.
The outreach services christened, “Onuado” (brotherly love) is aimed at sending healthcare services to the doorsteps of the citizenry, especially those at the deprived communities in order to bridge the equity gap in healthcare delivery.
The programme is being co-ordinated by the Ghana Health Service, and would provide interactive health education in communities to promote healthy life styles and prevent diseases.
President Mahama indicated that eight vans has been secured as part of the first phase of the programme, which would offer treatment for general medical conditions, dental services, ophthalmology (eye services) as well as ear, throat and nose services in 43 districts across the country.
He said government over the years has made strides in the healthcare delivery and expanded district, regional and national health facilities including, teaching hospitals, military hospitals, polyclinics and community-based health planning system compounds in all the 10 regions.
In addition, more medical practitioners, nurses, pharmacists and laboratory technicians have been trained to manage those facilities to enhance the living standards of the people.
“Healthcare is prioritised in most countries these days that is why there is a saying that, “a wealthy nation is a healthy nation” because for a country to progress there is the need to provide quality health services to the people to ensure high productivity”, he stressed.
President Mahama observed that in 2000, when the Millennium Development Goals started, 900 out of 100,000 expectant mothers died during child delivery; however, the number had reduced drastically over the years, now recording 320 maternal deaths out of 100,000.
He added that more children are also surviving after delivery due to innovative policies that enabled them to be immunised against child-killer diseases, saying “Although we want zero maternal and infant mortality, the outreach health services would go a long way to enable people in the remote communities to have access to healthcare”.
President Mahama said mobile vans would be accompanied by personnel from the National Health Insurance Scheme who would register people onto the Scheme and provide their identity cards instantly in order to ensure accessible healthcare to all Ghanaians at an affordable rate.
The President expressed appreciation to the country’s development partners, especially the Danish Government for collaborating with Ghana, to acquire the mobile vans and announced that more of such facilities are expected in order to expand the scope of health services in the second phase of the programme.
Mr Alex Segbefia, the Minister of Health, said although the mobile clinic services has been ongoing in the country on small-scale level over the past 10 years, steps have been taken to increase access to healthcare in deprived areas as a way of decentralising and revolutionising health services in the country.
This, he said, would address some health concerns and enhance the lives of the people.
The Director-General of Ghana Health Service, Dr Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, noted that the government has exhibited immense commitment towards improving healthcare delivery in the country.
He said the Service could now boast of about 10,000 community health nurses who are dispensing basic health services to children, pregnant women and Ghanaians from all walks of life, saying: “Ghana has now become a trail blazer in terms of healthcare delivery in the world.”
He entreated the staff of the Service to provide the needed leadership to ensure the success of the programme.
The Vice President of Western Regional House of Chiefs, Nana Kwesi Agyemang the ninth, expressed his appreciation to the government for initiating such a laudable programme and urged the handlers to take proper care of the equipment in order to benefit many Ghanaians.