Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, Former Director-General of Ghana Health Service (GHS) has emphasised the need to strengthen the implementation of the Community Health and Planning Services (CHPS) compounds to improve access to healthcare for the vulnerable.
Resourcing CHPS compounds to function well as a primary healthcare provider across the country, he said, was critical to reducing maternal deaths since most of such deaths occurred due to delays in getting access to primary healthcare or referral systems.
He said CHPS Zoning and mapping up vulnerable groups, including pregnant women and people with disabilities to enable them to access specific healthcare services like antenatal care to scale up the prevention of maternal deaths.
Speaking at the opening of the Eastern Regional annual health performance review meeting in Koforidua, Dr Appiah-Denkyira expressed concern over maternal deaths recorded by the Eastern Regional Hospital.
He stressed that positioning the CHPS compounds to reach out to vulnerable people was imperative in making headway in preventing maternal deaths.
He also called for linking all beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) to CHPS compounds to ensure a holistic approach in dealing with the vulnerable, adding, “LEAP beneficiaries don’t only need money but also access to healthcare in a manner to fit their conditions.”
That, he noted required incentives for the health staff at the CHPS compounds.
He appealed to the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to support the CHPS compounds by resourcing them adequately to provide basic healthcare services to the people.
Institutional maternal mortality in the Eastern Region worsened from 137.5 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019 to 146.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, including 59 maternal deaths recorded by the regional hospital alone.
Dr Winfred Ofosu, the Eastern Regional Director of Health, said maternal health indicators mostly stagnated in 2020 with the proportion of mothers making at least four Antenatal Clinic (ANC) visits declining from 67.7 per cent in 2019 to 67.2 per cent in 2020, whiles skilled attendance at delivery increased slightly from 50.2 to 50.9 per cent in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Systems strengthening at the primary care delivery at the community level, as well as referral, he added, was critical to improved clinical outcomes, and disclosed that CHPS implementation and primary care provider network would be a key priority for the region this year.
The theme for the review meeting was, “Sustaining Routine Health Service Delivery Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic,” which Dr Ofosu said was to reinforce the need to improve the delivery of routine services towards universal health coverage within the context of covid-19.
He said focusing too much on the COVID response tends to divert attention from endemic killer diseases revealing that the case fatality of many of the endemic diseases was much higher in the region.
Looking at the totality of performance in 2020, he said, the institution maintained the delivery of routine service delivery despite the shocks of the COVID disease.
He added that the task for 2021 was to improve healthcare delivery for better health outcomes.
Touching on key challenges facing the region, Dr Ofosu noted inadequate space for service delivery, staff accommodation, equipment, WASH facilities, and electricity among others made service delivery in most communities difficult.
Dr Patrick Kumah, Director-General, Ghana Health Service disclosed that by the third quarter of 2021, the GHS would establish a training institute to help build management and leadership skills of health staff for improved delivery.
He said the Institute would focus on making health care workers more skillful, efficient, motivated, equitably distributed, and well protected during the delivery of services, especially during pandemics such as COVID.
Dr Kumah dismissed some negative perceptions on the COVID vaccines, saying, vaccines all together save the lives of about three million people each year and entreated everyone to avail themselves for the inoculation.
He gave the assurance that the GHS would continue to use its resources and expertise to ensure better protection and safety for all.
Mr Seth Acheampong, Eastern Regional Minister, in a speech read on his behalf called on the service to focus on other areas of endemic and tropical diseases to prevent avoidable deaths.