Overcome Barriers in Health-Care Provision: Achieve UHC 

By: Philip Tengzu

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The United Nations (UN) adopted for itself the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with goal 3 aimed at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.

Target 3.8 of these goals required every member states that had signed onto these goals to “achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”

Achieving universal health coverage would translate into the reduction of maternal, neonatal and under-five mortalities as required by targets 3.1 and 3.2 of the SDGs.

However, access to primary health-care services at the rural settings in Ghana was a challenge in spite of the implementation of the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHIPS) concept which was an approach to providing primary health-care to the people.

Poor road networks in some communities in the Upper West Region had compounded the plight of people seeking health-care services as access to health facilities in those communities was a challenge.

Notable among those communities was Nyuoli in the Wa West District where patients including pregnant women and children had to be transported on a tricycle or motorbike on a deplorable road for several kilometers before they could get access to health-care services.

This was because the community with a population of over 2,000 people had no government health facility which had compelled them to depend on a privately operated health facility in the community.

This, according to them, was unbearable as services at the facility were expensive to access due to the ineffectiveness of the National Health Insurance which forced persons seeking health care services at the facility to pay for every service they received.

This did not only pertain to Nyuoli, but there were other several such communities in the region, and for that matter Ghana where access to health-care services was a privilege rather than a right owing to several factors including poor road network, lack of facilities and limited health service providers in cases where facilities existed.

It is worth noting that achieving universal health coverage and quality health-care service delivery demanded maximum financial commitment on the part of government and development partners.

It is, however, sad to note that the government of Ghana, over the years, had not exhibited utmost financial commitment to improve health-care service delivery in the country.

Despite an increasing demand for improved health-care service by the citizenry, government’s expenditure on health is progressing at a slow pace with the 2018 budget allocation for the sector seeing a marginal improvement from GHȻ4,226.15 in 2017 million to GHȻ4,422.25 million, representing 4.64 per cent.

Therefore, in government’s efforts to meet the UN SDGs by 2030 and the Africa Union (AU) agenda 2063 on health, financial commitment on health should be increased to subsidise cost of health-care services to cushion the cost of access to health services, especially for pregnant women and children.

Further, the National Health Insurance Scheme should be revamped to function effectively and to offer special consideration to the vulnerable groups in society such as persons living with disability, pregnant women and children.

In order to achieve UHC in Ghana, the government and development partners should also ensure that the implementation of the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHIPS) concpet was not only infrastructure based but also accompanied by the needed health service providers.

Infrastructure, such roads networks ought to be improved, particularly at the rural level, to facilitate movement of the people in cases where they had to travel a long distance to access health-care services to help improve their living standard.

This would ensure that quality health-care service provision was holistic and comprehensive according to international standard.

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