SONA2016: NHIS, Zika and Progress of health infrastructures – Health Issues on Mahama’s SONA

President John Dramani Mahama says the life expectancy of Ghanaians has improved significantly from what it was at independence.

Addressing the nation on Thursday, the President said the Ghanaian used to live a little over 40 years back then, but now has an extension for more than 14 years.

The President credited this to improvement in advances in medicine, and the increased number of health personnel and health infrastructure in the country.

“Ghanaians are living longer in their adult lives and more infant are living to see those years,” said President Mahama.

Quoting a Ghana Demographics and Health survey, he said, there has been a drastic decrease in rates of infant mortality and under five years mortality.

According to the Survey, over the last decade, child mortality decreased from 111 to 60 per life births while infant mortality decreased by almost 30% from 64 to 41 percent per life births over the same period.

Expectant mothers are reported by the Survey to be surviving pregnancy and after childbirth because antenatal, antepartum and postnatal care has improved.

Mahama promised that government is going to invest heavily in education and preventive healthcare in the coming years.

This investment in preventive health is more prudent as the nation’s nutritious habits continue to change, the President noted.

Addressing sustainable healthcare financing for communicable and non-communicable diseases, Mahama revealed that a technical committee has been set up to make a proposal, which would lead to the fundamental redesign of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The president also spoke about the importance of physical exercise and the need to have Physical Education (PE) and Sports back on the school curriculum.

Stakeholders are interacting to consider reintegrating PE and Sports back into the curriculum to impact the lives of students with obesity and curb sedentary lives and its associated illness, Mahama said.

NHIS to be reformed soon – President Mahama
The government expects the team of technical expertise set up to advise on fundamental reforms in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

“Proposed reforms will touch on areas like equity, premiums expansion of the revenue base, claims fraud, benefits packages and the procurement of medication,” President Mahama revealed in his State of the Nation Address Thursday.

President Mahama said membership of NHIS in 2015 saw an active rise from 11.2 million people and outpatient utilization of the Scheme rising from 29.6 million in 2014 from 597,000 from 2005.

With figures showing a clear indication that people have confidence in both the scheme and the health system; questions about the adequacy of the funding mechanism cannot be ignored.

“I want to make medication affordable for all Ghanaians and that is why I want our local pharmaceutical companies to produce as many medications as possible locally,” said Mahama.

To that end, he said, the government has disbursed more than ¢50 million to assist these companies and their raw materials have been exempted from Value Added Tax (VAT).

The government hopes to achieve an interrupted supply of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV and AIDs patients.

Mahama is happy this intervention has helped the creation of more jobs in the Pharmaceutical industry.

Chief Executive Officer of Tobinco, Samuel Amu Tobin, and Pharmacies like Ernest Chemists were mentioned as a beneficiary of the support among several others. The Export Development and Agricultural Investment funds dispersed the funds.

Ghana on Zika alert – President Mahama
The Ministry of Health acting through it agencies has started organizing education programs on the prevention of the Zika virus.

World Health Organisation has declared Zika a global public health emergency after its devastating effects in Brazil, the United States and some parts of Europe.

President John Mahama in his State of the Nation Address said, “The ministry is also keeping health facilities on the alert for timely messages on transmission patterns, associated sign and symptoms, methods of prevention as well as emergency preparedness planning.”

President Mahama assured Ghanaians that government is putting itself in preparedness and equipping itself to deal with Zika and any other public health issue that might arise

Infrastructural Development
According to the President, health care has improved tremendously; with his government making lots of investment in the sector to ensure a better system.

The social democratic government of John Mahama believes that a healthy people make a wealthy nation, which is the reason why an investment of more than $2 billion in health infrastructure, equipment and human resources.

“We project the completion of the project to add more than 6000 new hospital beds to Ghana’s existing stock by the end of 2018, ” said the President.

Giving updates on ongoing health project the President said, “There are three teaching hospitals, three institutional hospitals, four regional hospitals, 14 district hospitals, dozens or Poly Clinics and health centers as well as thousands of CHIP compounds”,

Many other projects are at the various stages of completion: construction of the University hospital at Legon, upgrading and rehabilitation of the ridge hospital, expansion of the second phase of the Tamale Hospital, expansion of the Police Hospital in Accra are progressing steadily, the President revealed.

The Wa Regional Hospital which is part of the eight hospital projects started in 2012 is 70 per cent completed.

Also, a 220 bed regional hospital in Kumawu, 60 bed district hospital in Salaga, 60 bed district in tepa, Nsorko, Konongo Odumase, 100 municipal hospital near Atomic in Accra have also been completed.

Rehabilitation works on the 296 bed Bolgatanga hospital is progressing, the new modern emergency department for Korle-bu hospital 90 is complete and a 12 bed Intensive Care Unit Department of Surgery has also been refurbished and complete.

Six district hospitals with integrated IT systems are currently being designed and constructed and equipped at an estimated cost of $75m to benefit Sekondi Takoradi, Abetifi, Garu, Kumawu, Fomena and Dodowa,

The President said that he has directed the Minister to convert the Regional Hospital in Volta region into a modern teaching hospital befitting of a status of a university hospital for the use of University of Health and Allied Sciences.

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