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Experts say political instability in Burkina Faso, Mali taking toll on Ghana’s Health systems in UWR

Experts say Political instability in Burkina Faso and Mali taking toll on Ghana's Health systems in UWR
Dr Damien Punguyire, Upper West Regional Director of Health Services

The political instability in Burkina-Faso and Mali continues to exert undue stress on the health sector in the Upper West Region, Dr. Damien Punguyire, the Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, said.

Available data on the immigrant population in the region indicates that as of the end of January 2024, there were about 8,507, including 1,036 children under five years, who had temporarily settled in the Sissala East and Sissala West districts alone, he said.

“The service is being over-stretched in its attempt to meet the health needs of this extra population, in terms of vaccination, water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition services, and medical needs,” he noted

Dr Punguyire said this in Wa during the opening of the 2023 annual regional health sector performance review meeting of the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

He, therefore, emphasised the need for expansion of the health infrastructure in the region, improve the supply of equipment and logistics, as well as enhance the transportation system to help build a resilient health service, especially in the border districts in response to that continuing threat.

He appealed to municipal and district chief executives to prioritise the health sector in the implementation of the Gulf of Guinea Northern Ghana Social Cohesion (SOCO) project.

Dr Punguyire identified high staff attrition rate as another challenge confronting the sector.

He said 134 staff of the GHS left the region on transfer as against 35 staff posted there within the year under review.

Most of the medical doctors there were also in school for their post-graduate training, which affected the sector.

He appealed to the relevant stakeholders including the GHS and the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons to speed up the process of converting the Upper West Regional Hospital into a specialist training centre to enable the doctors to specialise while at post.

Dr Punguyire said with support from partners, the region had improved health service delivery within the year under review.

He said they supplied 36 tricycle ambulances to some health facilities to help in transportation of emergency cases from peripheral health facilities to higher levels of care.

The region also received medical equipment, including ultrasound scan machines, 25 Oxygen Concentrators and 25 Patient Monitors from the national level, which were distributed to health facilities.

In 2024, they would continue to strengthen public health and clinical care interventions and intensify monitoring and supervision at all levels in line with GHS’ mandate, he said.

The Health Director commended the development partners for the continuous support to the Service to enhance its effectiveness.

Mr Peter Maala, the Upper West Regional Coordinating Director, who represented the Regional Minister, commended the Health Directorate for the “impressive performance” of the sector in 2023.

He indicated that most of the sub-projects under the SOCO were in the health sector, which would help contribute to improvement.

He said the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had established a refugee reception centre at Zinni in the Sissala West District to receive displaced persons as a result of the conflict in the Sahelian countries.

“This means that all displaced persons entering Ghana will be located at one place and once we are able to do that all allied services, the health, education or any other sector will be concentrated at the camp,” he explained.

The Western Regional Health Directorate peer-reviewed the Upper West Region with a Regional Holistic Assessment score of 3.8, an improvement over the 3.7 in 2022.

The team from the Western Region reviewed documents and reports and did field observation to arrive at that score.

This year’s review meeting was on the theme: “Embracing the Networks of Practice Approach to Improve Health Outcomes in the Upper West Region”.

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Source: GNA

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