Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has indicated that government is doing its best to ensure accessibility to healthcare for citizens despite the huge indebtedness the Akufo-Addo administration inherited.
Mr Agyeman-Manu, taking his turn at the Meet The Press Series in Accra, explained that government was working tirelessly to ensure debts owed to agencies and partners are cleared and funds mobilised to complete uncompleted health facility projects in the country.
“There is nowhere in the ministry you open that you would not find indebtedness. But we are managing it because we have an obligation to make sure that people are receiving healthcare,” he added.
Touching on some of the sectors’ indebtedness, Mr Agyeman-Manu cited the GH¢1.2b debt the erstwhile administration owed providers and suppliers, which government has managed pay part.
The sector minister also added that government had to salvage the vaccine situation which put the lives of newborns in the country earlier this year at risk of contracting polio.
“We do co-funding because they also contract providers. We refused as a country to pay for the entire 2016, by March 2017 we had to rush and pay GH¢10m the whole of 2017 because they said if you are able to pay the whole of 2017 we will allow you to owe the 2016,” he said.
He, however, disclosed that the ministry will do everything possible to meet the payment deadline of December to ensure sustained supply of the vaccine in 2018.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the total financial commitment on government for all the ongoing projects in the health sector was totalled at GH¢404,647,389 for the year, with a total amount of GH¢190,139,783 disbursed so far.
He said the ministry was also aggressively pursuing the completion of the suspended 1000-bed Mother & Child Block at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
The sector minister stated that there are hospital projects currently ongoing such as the Wa Regional Hospital, Tepa District Hospital, Nsawkaw District Hospital and Madina Municipal Hospital.
“Value for money auditing has been completed and awaiting final report from Ministry of Finance, first 4 of the 8-hospitals are scheduled for completion in April 2018,” he added.
Mr Agyeman-Manu explained that the ministry has so far recruited and deployed 16,602 health professionals this year, including 11,573 nurses, 247 medical officers, 1,883 support staff, 938 allied health staff and 106 others.
He said government has also delivered on its campaign promise and has restored allowance to nurses and other trainees in the Ministry of Health training institutions, with 58,000 benefiting.
The sector ministry pointed out that a committee has also been set up to review and advise on restructuring of the pre-service training in the health sector.
“The committee has submitted its report and the recommendations are being implemented rationalisation of admissions to improve quality online admission process reduction of admission fees from GH¢160 to GH¢100,” he added.
Mr Agyeman-Manu disclosed that the CMS fire investigation report has been submitted to the Auditor General upon his request.
The Auditor General is finalising due processes to conduct forensic audit of the incident construction of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital Phase II.
He, however, said funds were being sourced for the reconstruction of the Central Medical Store (CMS).
The sector minister explained that geographical access to health services, especially Western, Volta and Northern Regions and inadequate funds and logistics to strengthen newly-created district health administrations inadequate staff, especially doctors and ageing fleet of vehicles which are expensive to maintain are major challenges facing the sector.
He, however, mentioned that the ministry was working towards a lasting solution by strengthening and increasing the workforce, intensify public education and strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration.
“We are making good use of our limited resources, we believe together we can provide quality healthcare to all,” he added.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri