Government is poised to prioritise the use of technology to optimise healthcare delivery in the country, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
“Drone technology has been introduced into the system to help deliver essential medicine, blood and blood products to remote communities and significantly strengthen health delivery system in the country,” said President Akufo-Addo while delivering his third state of the nation address to parliament in Accra.
The Ministry of Health has signed a Letter of Intent with the developer and operator of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, popularly known as drones, to offer a drone-enabled supply chain solution in Ghana that will ensure secure, reliable and timely delivery of essential health care products to hospitals and other health facilities.
Operators of Fly Zipline Ghana are optimistic that they will launch operations by the second quarter of the year. Believed to be the biggest in Africa, it is expected to deliver blood and other essential medicines to health facilities within the country.
Presently, construction work on a base for the flights is underway at Dominako, five kilometres from Suhum in the Eastern Region. The project, the first of four to be constructed in the country, will serve areas within the Eastern Region as well as the Afram Plains, Volta Region, and parts of the Greater-Accra and Ashanti Regions.
Parliament, last December, approved the deal for drones to be used in medical delivery after three failed attempts.
President Akufo-Addo explained that the health delivery system will also be improved greatly by the expected arrival in June of 275 ambulances – one per constituency – to make treatment of emergency cases more effective.
“We need to remind ourselves repeatedly that health is wealth, and it is only a healthy population that can make Ghana prosperous.”
Emphasising the deployment healthcare delivery through technology, President Akufo-Addo indicated that government has introduced a mobile renewal of membership in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) that has been widely accepted nationwide.
“Today, our National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is buoyant. Government has paid the GH¢1.2billion arrears we inherited and brought operations of the NHIS back to life. On 19th December 2018, the introduction of mobile renewal of membership was launched.
“Since then, there have been on average 70,000 members renewing their membership every week, by dialling *929# on any mobile phone network.
“Soon, in collaboration with the National Identification Authority, Ghanaians will be able to register, renew and access health care services using the Ghana Card. We have to thank Dr. Samuel Annor’s brief but productive stewardship as CEO of the National Health Insurance Authority for that. I wish him well in his retirement,” he said.
To deliver healthcare to Ghanaians more efficiently, President Akufo-Addo explained that in 2018 government granted financial clearance for the recruitment of 11,018 health personnel to increase existing clinical staff.
To augment the efforts of clinical staff, in September 2018, the Ministry of Health received further financial clearance to employ 14,524 Nurse Assistants in the area of Clinical and Preventive services.
These nurse assistants, he indicated, belong to the tranche that passed their examinations in 2016 from government’s health training institutions, and have commenced work by 1st February 2019.
The Ministry of Health is working to obtain financial clearance for the recruitment of 2017 and 2018 graduates, he said.
On inadequate infrastructure, President Akufo-Addo said: “We still face problems of inadequate infrastructure in our health establishments. We have problems of numerous structures at various stages of completion that cannot be finished and brought into use because newer structures are being started, and there is no money to finish the ones started earlier.
“This is a long-standing problem that is a mark of our underdevelopment. We will not ignore or sweep the problem under the carpet. We are dealing with it, and will complete them.
“Ghana’s hardworking nurses and doctors will do their best, as they have always done, to make sure we get the best health care; but it behoves each one of us to look after ourselves better.
“Apart from exercising and taking our regular health check-ups seriously, it is imperative that we eat healthy diets to prevent diseases that are caused by poor choices of nutrition,” he said.