Accra- The Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR), an NGO, has urged government to provide allowances to trainee nurses, who are willing to undertake courses in midwifery and paediatric.
The NGO is of the view that such a move would encourage more trainee nurses to offer courses in midwifery and paediatric nursing.
Nana Ayisha Mohammed, Senior Programme Officer, ARHR, said this at a civil society organisation’s forum on the analysis of the health component of the 2018 budget.
She commended government efforts to address the staffing gap in the health sector with the employment of 15,667 staff, but stated that the budget statement was silent on the update of the work on the Ghana Health Service staffing norms as outlined in the 2017 budget.
She said compensation over the last three years continued to be above 50 per cent, while goods and services remained below 40 per cent and capital expenditure still received the lowest allocations, which were less than 14 per cent.
The health sector continues to face a huge funding gap especially as compensations continue to consume a large chunk of allocation to the sector.
Allocations for goods and service delivery as well as infrastructural investment continue to be inadequate, she added.
Ms Mohammed said the high reliance on Internally Generated Fund for the provision of goods and services was likely to impose huge pressure on health facilities to generate income by levying patients to pay for services, which should be free.
She said the Alliance was of the view that government seemed to have abandoned primary health care, which is at the lower tier of the health structure as it focused more on infrastructural development at the regional and district levels.
Ms Mohammed said there was no clear direction on how government would address the inequitable distribution of existing health workers across the country in the 2018 budget.
She said despite government’s admittance that the health sector had faced funding challenges in the past, the sector’s budget only increased marginally by 4.6 per cent in nominal terms, saying in real terms, there was a 0.1 per cent decline.
Touching on health Infrastructure, she said government indicated a strong commitment to complete some of the health infrastructure projects it inherited from the 2016 budget.
Though laudable, the budget did not mention any attempt to complete or construct a single CHPS compound despite CHPS being the first point of contact for many Ghanaians, since there were currently over 200 uncompleted CHPS, She added.
She said the removal of 17.5 per cent VAT on selected pharmaceutical products was commendable, and that the initiative would influence the pricing of medicines and cost of purchase of medicines by the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Participants at the forum were of the view that revenue realized from the National Health Insurance Levy should be separated from the consolidated funds and all proceeds allocated directly to the scheme.
They also urged government to allocate more resources to service delivery given the substantial decrease in donor commitment to the health sector.
Source: Ghana News Agency