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3 Northern Regions Cry For More Doctors

2008-09-16 21:53:59
This article has been read 707 times.

Tamale Hospital
THE shortage of health personnel in the northern parts of Ghana, was brought to the fore at the weekend at separate functions at Bolgatanga and Wa.

Reports indicate that a great disparity exists in the doctor-patient ratios between the three northern regions put together and just one hospital in Accra. The same could be said of nurses and other categories of health staff.

From Bolgatanga, A.I. Mohammed reports that Dr J. Koku Awoonor-Williams, Upper East Regional Director of Health Service, noted that whereas the national doctor-patient ratio was one to 13,000, the Upper East Region had a doctor-patient ratio of one to 29,000, the Upper West, one to 44,000 and the Northern Region one to 93,000.

The nurse-patient ratio for the Upper East Region is one to 1,243.

The region’s total nurse workforce of 842 deployed to 166 health facilities, making an average of five nurses per facility, at any particular time.

Dr Awoonor-Williams was speaking at the 22nd Annual General Conference of the Public Health Nurses Group on Thursday.

The conference was under the theme: "Promoting community involvement in reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, the role of the public health nurse".

He said out of the eleven doctors posted to the region over the last four years, only one reported.

Despite the challenges, he said the region has some of the best practices. It has the highest number of baby friendly facilities in the country withy 51 of its facilities designated baby-friendly out of 237, counterywide.

Beatrice Appah, National chairperson of PHNG, underscored the importance of the conference which she said was to assess the group’s performance and strategise for the ensuring year.

Dr Elias Sory, Director-General of Ghana Health Services, in an address read for him, noted that the recognition that almost all the causes of maternal death were preventable should rekindly the hopes and resolve of all health workers.

He said the battle against maternal deaths can be won because the technology and cost effective interventions were available and the health staff were equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills.

In a speech read for him, Mr Alhassan Samari, the Regional Minister, observed that the level of development of every nation was measured by its health status indicators of which maternal death was a critical part.

He said the role of public health nurses, was pivoted in reducing maternal mortality.

Matthew Ayoo, also reports from Wa, that lack of doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the Upper West Region posed serious threat to quality health care delivery services.

As a result the region has the highest infant mortality rate of 208 deaths per 1,000 live births as against the national average of 111 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The region also has the highest maternal mortality rate recording as many as 29 maternal deaths in 2007.

Between January and June this year eight maternal deaths were recorded in health facilities in the region. The situation could be worse at the local community level where access to health care delivery faced challenges such as poor road network and lack of transportation.

The Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Alexis Nang-Beifubah, painted this gloomy picture when he gave an overview of maternal and child health services in the region at a workshop for media practitioners last Thursday.

Dr Nang-Beifubah said although the region required 25 doctors it has only six complemented by 691 nurses as against 1,379 required. There are only eight pharmacists out of the 13 required, eight Laboratory technologists and seven X-Ray Technicians as against the required 21 and 18 respectively.

Dr Nang-Beifubah said despite these constraints health personnel were doing their best to render quality health care to help reduce infant and maternal mortality rates adding "women have no right to die in this era of the nation’s development through child birth".

He suggested the institution of incentive packages for health professionals who accept posting to remote communities.


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