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Ghana Healthcare

A National Health Insurance Bill was launched in 2003 aimed at providing universal access to basic healthcare without having to pay at the point of delivery. The reality is that most patients must still pay up-front for treatment, or hospital stays before they are allowed to leave the hospital.

There is a large need for new medical equipment to equip the new facilities that are being built and the existing facilities that are being expanded and/or refurbished. Much of the existing equipment is also obsolete or broken and cannot be repaired locally due to lack of spare parts or maintenance expertise. This need is expected to increase as more of the planned projects are started.

Future demand will increase as there has been a recognised need to improve the health service in Ghana, and this is being addressed as funds become available.

Around 50% of the healthcare facilities in Ghana, which includes hospitals and clinics, are Ministry of Health Institutions, with 40% being private sector, 9% mission institutions and the remaining 1% quasi-governmental institutions.

The main issues in the medical sector in Ghana are cost and expertise. The National Health Insurance Bill, aimed at universal access to healthcare with an emphasis on primary healthcare, is influencing the trends in the Public Health Service. Following the launch of the bill the investment budget is up 100% in 2004, but it is still comparably very small, and it is hoped that it will increase in the next few years. There is a large reliance on donated medical equipment and supplies in both the public and private healthcare sectors. Some donations are not however fully utilised and have been left in packing boxes while the hospitals find room for them. Others are unused as the medical staff do not receive training, and if the equipment breaks it is often left and the old equipment is used as there is not the means or expertise to repair the equipment.

A key threat to the medical sector in Ghana is the shortage of medical personnels. “The State of the Ghanaian Economy” report 2002 uncovered that 68.2% of medical officers trained between 1993-2000 have left Ghana, and a further 12% of the Ghanaian health workers left in 2003. This situation has had an impact on the health services with a shortage of skills to use & repair the equipment in place. There is also a shortage of teaching staff, facilities and equipment to train new health professionals. Some areas are left without a doctor, making the case for more mobile units. The government is looking at options to slow down this trend, but at the current time it continues with the ratio between medical personnel and patients increasing annually.





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