Healthcare delivery is key in Ghana’s forward development but the mountainous cases such as malaria, diarrhoea, maternal and infant related diseases among others still being recorded in health facilities in the Northern Region, are thwarting the campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 which is a concern to many stakeholders in the health sector.
Officials at the Ghana Health Service and the Coalition for Development of Western Corridor of Northern Region (NORTHCODE) for instance, have observed that many people in some four Districts in Gonjaland were not registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
In fact, whereas some did not see the need to renew their cards after it had expired, others particularly the vulnerable (aged) and pregnant women including their children below 18 did not know that they were exempted from paying for renewals of their NHIS Cards or registering for it. Also, in some extreme circumstances some poor people did not have the money to renew their NHIS Cards to enable them benefit when they go to hospital for medical care.
In view of the aforementioned, NORTHCODE with funding support from STAR-Ghana, a donor organization, has begun implementation of a two-year project dubbed: “Western Corridor Improved Health Insurance and Healthcare Delivery”, with focus to enhance NHIS and CHPS Compounds patronage in the four Districts ( West Gonja/North Gonja, Central Gonja, Bole and Sawla-Tuna-Kalba).
Speaking at a capacity building workshop in Damongo, the Coordinator of NORTHCODE Cletus Zume, said NORTHCODE was a coalition of four non-governmental organizations in the four districts established with the objective of harnessing strengths, abilities, capacities and energies to support various communities to access the basic necessities of life such as good healthcare delivery, education, economic empowerment of women and also protecting the environment.
The coalition, he disclosed, consisted of Centre for Women Opportunities (CENWOPP) in Damongo, Kachito Community Development Centre in Buipe, Tuna Women Development Programme (TUWODEP) in Tuna and Partners in Participatory Development (PAPADEV) in Bole.
According to Mr. Zume who is also the Executive Director of CENWOPP, implementing organization of the NORTHCODE project, the project was also implemented in partnership with the four District Health Insurance Schemes and their District Health Management Teams (DHMTs).
The objective of the project, he further expatiated, was to advocate for more people to enrol onto the NHIS as well as encourage people to patronize the services of CHPS Compounds –community health posts, and other health centres especially in the rural communities. “As at now, we are implementing this project in 40 communities in the 4 districts”, he added.
The workshop at Damongo was therefore, to train 200 community NHIS volunteers and DHMTs to empower them to know their roles and responsibilities and also enable them to enhance the lives of community members by educating them on the essence of having an NHIS card and for that matter, an active one of course to enable them access healthcare, Mr. Zume emphasised.
The West Gonja District NHIS Manager John Kaara Kipo in an interview with this blogger on the sidelines of the workshop, stressed that CHPS Compounds were very significant in healthcare delivery at the community level, because they were the first port of call during emergencies before any referrals were made to the District or Regional Hospitals, that is, if the emergencies were complicated.
He disclosed that, the district had so far registered over 79,000 people with the NHIS but renewal of cards by patrons was very poor and attributed the problem to several reasons including the fact that, a new district had been carved out of the West Gonja District (North Gonja), people leaving the district to other places, poverty and among others.
Meanwhile, there were only 6 CHPS Compounds in the entire district according to Dr. Chrysantus Kubio, West Gonja Director of Health Services. He told this blogger that, ideally a CHPS Compound should have a midwife, road worthy vehicle (motorbike), water and registers for records keeping, but these were lacking thus posing challenges to efficient healthcare delivery.
Dr. Kubio indicated that, although the district had chalked success in the area of maternal health with no record of deaths in recent times, malaria was still high as records showed about 50 percent cases of out-patient-department (OPD) being recorded.