The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has introduced an online portal that will ensure an equitable distribution of health professionals across the country, the Director General of GHS, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, has announced.
He said the online portal would ensure that health professionals would be placed where there was a dire need for them and not where they wanted to be.
Dr Nsiah-Asare was speaking at the induction of 106 newly qualified medical and dental practitioners at a ceremony in Accra on Friday.
The inductees were from the Medical and Dental School of the University of Ghana and the School of Medical Science of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, as well as some foreign-trained students.
Universal Health Coverage
“We are keen to achieve universal quality health coverage by 2030, and the only way we can do it is to get professionals in every part of this country so that everybody everywhere can have quality health care,” Dr Nsiah-Asare said.
He said many joined the profession every time but the inequitable distribution of doctors in the system was a major challenge for the country.
Throwing more light on the situation, Dr Nsiah-Asare said 48 per cent of doctors in the country were presently in the Greater Accra Region, while 52 per cent could be found in the remaining 15 regions.
He said, for example, that on April 3 this year, “we fed 130 doctors into the system. When we opened the portal, within 12 minutes, Greater Accra was full, Ashanti Region within 25 minutes was also full.
But out of the 12 we gave to Upper East, for example, only two had filled in the forms. In the case of Upper West, only two out of 12 doctors had filled forms, and out of another 12 doctors posted to the Northern Region, only one had done it,” he added.
“We cannot have such a situation if the country is to develop. At first, we used to post them but we have decided not to post them anymore. “There is nowhere in the world that people go for jobs without going through a system. “So we have put a system in place, an electronic portal for health professionals so that we will not have the situation of everyone wanting to be in the cities,” he said.
According to Dr Nsiah-Asare, the attitude of parents and some influential people were partially to blame for the situation because they tried to manipulate the system.
To complement the online portal as part of the solution to the problem, Dr Nsiah-Asare said the GHS was working closely with a private institution to provide accommodation for all health professionals, especially those in the remote areas of the country.
“What we are doing as an institution is, we are putting in pull factors. So with the support of the private sector, we will put up blocks of flats everywhere we have a hospital and every district we have district health administrations so that people will have places to sleep.
“We also want to have differential allowances for those who are working in very hard to reach and rural areas,” he added.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the GHS would insist that everybody acquired some rural experience before they would be allowed to do postgraduate training since the government had now taken over the fees.
Also to help remedy the situation, Dr Nsiah-Asare called on all district chief executives (DCEs) to put in place measures that would make their districts attractive to health professionals.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang Manu, expressed concerns about the negative reportage on the sector, such as claims of professional negligence, unethical behaviour by some doctors and improper conduct of some health professionals.
He, therefore, called on the Medical and Dental Council and other stakeholders in the sector to put in place measures that would give the people a good impression about the sector.
Mr Manu pledged the ministry’s preparedness to work with the inductees to ensure that they were comfortable and successful in their profession.
For his part, the Chairman of the Ninth Board of the Medical and Dental Council, Professor P. K. Nyame, said the council was working hard to raise the standards of the profession very high.