Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister for Health, has appealed to donors to support the health ministry carry out its mandates.
The Minister, who was speaking at the opening of the 2023 Annual Health Summit, said presently, donor support for the ministry was zero percent.
He said the proportion of the overall budget contributed by the Government for the health sector had remained relatively stable since 2017, hovering between 59 percent and 62 percent except in 2021, where it reached 64 percent.
He said donor funding had however been less stable, it reached 17 percent of the total budget for the health sector in 2017 before falling to just six percent of the budget in 2020 after which it rebounded to 12 percent in 2022.
He said this year’s health summit is aimed at drawing the attention of the government and Ghanaians to the need to increase investment in Primary Health Care (PHC).
Agyemang-Manu said sustainable PHC is a key component of all high-performing health systems, an essential foundation for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and a prerequisite for meeting Sustainable Development Goals.
He said financing PHC was a pathway to achieving good health at low cost by providing essential and cost-effective health interventions like health promotion; maternal, newborn, and child health care; palliative care, immunization; and treatment for common illnesses across the life course.
“As the global burden of non-communicable diseases increases, PHC is emerging as the locus of both prevention and the coordination of life-long management of chronic conditions,” he said
The Minister of Health said PHC had an important role in providing essential public health functions, including responding to epidemics and pandemics.
“When successfully delivered, PHC serves as a key vehicle for fulfilling governmental and societal commitments. For example, primary healthcare expansion improves equity when its services reach vulnerable segments of the population,” he said.
Primary Healthcare (PHC) healthcare services are provided where people live and work, and because PHC focuses on population health, it can address many determinants of health that underpin various sources of vulnerability.
Agyemang-Manu said PHC could protect households’ financial well-being by fostering good health and reducing the risks of diseases among breadwinners, caregivers, and other family members to avert the need for expensive secondary and tertiary health care.
He said despite periodic attempts to refocus on PHC, vertical programmes, hospital-based and specialist-based care models had regularly been prioritised over PHC.
“Funding for PHC is generally insufficient; access to primary health-care services remains inequitable; services are of inadequate quality; and patients often have to make out-of-pocket payments to use them,” he said.
The Minister said Healthcare worker shortages persist, particularly in rural areas where the need is often greatest, and in many cases, supplies of medicines, equipment, and other necessary commodities are grossly inadequate.
"In our case for example, we have produced a great number of nurses and midwives, but it has become clear that we cannot absorb all of them, losing experienced ones to the developed countries, and at the same time we also experience unequal distribution of the health workforce,” he said.
Agyemang- Manu said the health sector situation reinforces a cycle of neglect of PHC, stating that when primary healthcare services were unreliable, of poor quality, and not accountable to system users, it led to poor uptake and low levels of trust in community-level healthcare.
He said to successfully provide PHC at the community level, national and local healthcare systems needed to be reimagined and restructured, beginning with placing the needs and preferences of people including the intended users and providers at the centre of the system design.
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