Story by Emmanuel Mensah-Abludo.
The Upper West Regional Coordinating Director, Peter Maala has stated that the COVID-19 pandemic was a litmus test on our preparedness towards managing health crises. He continued that our efforts in containing the virus have thrown light on how efficient and effective we are as a country in dealing with health emergencies.
Mr Maala made the observation when he stood in for the Upper West Regional Minister Dr Hafiz Bin Salih at the 19th Annual General Meeting of the Medical Superintendents Group of Ghana in Jirapa. The focus of the event was: Health Crisis Management; Lessons Learnt from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Mr. Maala pointed out that the pandemic also opened our eyes to the challenges of how non-preparedness could cost our lives if care is not taken. He paid tribute to all those who helped and continue to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“The Ghana Health Service should be commended for prompt response in the handling of COVID-19 pandemic. The various health facilities, especially selected treatment centres helped in the fight against the virus. Let me use this occasion to comment on medical superintendents for the role you played in the fight against COVID-19 even with limited resources.
Mr. Maala admonished Medical Superintendents to be wary of misinformation and put in place a communication plan in all hospitals to diffuse false information.
A retired General Practitioner, Dr Edward Gyader intimated that the members of the medical superintendents group are the torch bearers in the health sector and touched on conditions of service.
He said: “On conditions of service, I’m very convinced that that promotion should not be based only on academic [considerations], it should be based on service that is why you are called Ghana Health Service. If you go to academia, what they say is that you publish or you perish. It is just like saying it is do or die’. When you are in Ghana Health Service, you give good service or you perish”, he stressed.
An Epidemiologist, Dr Erasmus Agongo who was the guest speaker touted Ghana’s District Health concept as a robust system that can withstand the test of a health crisis as it has proved in relation to COVID-19 in spite of the country’s resource challenges.
The President of Medical Superintendents Group of Ghana, Dr Joseph Kojo Tambil was not happy about the off-loading of a lot of expenditure obligations onto hospitals without consideration for commensurate inflows.
What was of particular concern is the issue of conditions of service.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said the Service has put in place a lot of initiatives to improve the livelihood of Medical Superintendents.He charged health workers not to put themselves in conflict of interest positions, “particularly Medical Superintendents who are known to have private facilities or who have been associated with private facilities. Dr. Kuma-Aboagye pointed out that you put yourself in conflict of interest situations irrespective of what you do, so those are the areas we need to be very, very careful about”, he noted.
The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Damien Punguyire announced that out of the 15 doctors who logged onto the regional portal, this year , to join the region, only 6 reported. All efforts to get the rest through phone calls did not yield any results. Dr Punguyire identified high staff attrition as one of the region’s key challenges.
He however said Upper West has 12 Specialists and 31 Medical Doctors currently at post serving nearly 1 million people. The Regional Director of Health Services stated that 5 additional Specialists are expected by the close of this month [October].