Speakers at the first senior managers meeting of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) have underscored the need for the country to sustain the gains made in the fight against COVID-19, despite the lifting of the restrictions.
That, they said, had been highlighted by the socio-economic challenges the pandemic posed.
They, therefore, called on the public not to throw away the preventive protocol, as well as get vaccinated, because that was key to sustaining and improving on the gains made so far.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting in Accra on March 29, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, in a speech read on his behalf, applauded the GHS, all health workers and development partners for their immense contribution to the progress made by the country in the fight against COVID-19.
He also commended Ghanaians for cooperating with the government and the health sector on the COVID-19 interventions that had led to the current strides made.
The senior managers and the partners of the GHS are meeting to deliberate on how the health sector could meet the health needs of all the people living in the country as part of national efforts to deliver Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
It is a platform for the service to monitor the progress made during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and disseminate the holistic assessment performance results of the sector.
The three-day meeting brings together partners from both the public and the private health sectors and development partners.
It is being held on the theme: “Comprehensive service delivery in a pandemic: Leaving no one behind”.
The objectives of the meeting include reviewing the GHS performance in 2021 to identify and proffer solutions to reasons for non-performance and deliberating on emerging issues relating to health systems strengthening in the context of UHC.
It is also to share new strategies to address the COVID-19 pandemic, especially vaccination uptake, renew and deepen its commitment to strengthen its preparedness to tackle all forms of public health threats and update members on new initiatives and the outlook for 2022.
The meeting will further discuss strategies on how to attract and retain critical health staff in deprived areas.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said in accordance with Ghana’s definition of UHC, everybody in the country must have access to timely and high quality health service, regardless of the ability to pay at the point of use.
That, he said, had been highlighted by lessons learnt from COVID-19, showing that health had a ripple effect on all sectors of the economy.
Mr Agyeman-Manu underscored the need for urgency in the delivery of UHC and pledged the ministry’s support and leadership in the delivery of UHC and improved service delivery in the sector.
The Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said bringing COVID-19 under bay had been a shared responsibility and appealed to the public not to throw away the safety protocol because the country lifted its COVID-19 occasioned restrictions, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks.
He said the pandemic was still lingering and so any losing of the guard on interventions could cause a retrogression in the gains made so far.
On overall service delivery, he said the service was making tremendous strides, but it continued to grapple with the tragic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the way forward, Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the new medium-term development plan (2022-2025) for the health sector had taken effect, following the expiration of the existing one.
He said the new plan would, among others, focus on enhancing the provision of essential services and the efficient management of clinical and public health emergencies, improving the quality of care and information management, enhancing efficiency in human resource performance, institutionalising reforms for sector effectiveness and strengthening health policy, financing and systems.
The Chairman of the GHS Council, Dr Sefah Sarpong Bediako, expressed gratitude to the management and staff of the service for their contribution to the fight against COVID-19.
On behalf of all the development partners, the UNICEF Country Representative, Ann-Claire Dufey, applauded Ghana for its remarkable response to COVID-19 that had yielded the desired results.
However, she said the country should not relent on its effort and response mechanisms instituted to fight the pandemic.
She encouraged the public to continue adhering to the safety protocol, as well as avail themselves for vaccination, to help sustain and improve on gains made so far in the national fight against COVID-19.