Ghanaian President talks health in State of the Nation Address
Urges citizens to embrace healthy diets to prevent diseases
President, Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo devoted a substantial part of his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday, February 21, to health care, as he urged Ghanaians to embrace healthy diets so as to prevent diseases caused by poor nutrition.
The SONA is a constitutional obligation that provides a platform for the President to appear before Parliament to give a situation report on the country, indicating the progress made and the challenges over the past year while also stating government’s plan for the people.
The President also stressed the need for exercise and taking regular health check-ups seriously,
He said Ghana’s hardworking nurses and doctors would do their best, as they had always done, to make sure Ghanaians get the best health care; however, it behoves on everyone to look after themselves better..
“When our children master the connection between science and their everyday lives, we would reach the stage in Ghana where we would be rid of the many diseases, borne of filth and poor hygiene, that are still part of our lives,” he said.
“In pursuing these goals, we need to remind ourselves repeatedly that health is wealth, and it is only a healthy population that can make Ghana prosperous.”
He noted that in May 2018, Ghana won accolades at the World Health Assembly for having eradicated Trachoma, an eye disease that had plagued Ghanaians for a long time.
He said today, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was buoyant; adding that the Government had paid up the GH¢1.2 billion arrears, which it inherited, and brought the operations of the NHIS back to life.
He recounted that on 19th December, 2018, the introduction of mobile renewal of membership was launched.
President Akufo-Addo said since then, there had been, on average, seventy thousand (70,000) members renewing their membership every week, by dialling *929# on any mobile phone network.
He said soon, in collaboration with the National Identification Authority, Ghanaians would be able to register, renew and access health care services using the Ghana Card.
“We have to thank Dr. Samuel Annor’s brief, but productive stewardship as Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority for that. I wish him well in his retirement,” the President stated.
President Akufo-Addo said to deliver healthcare to Ghanaians more efficiently, in 2018, Government granted financial clearance for the recruitment of 11,018 health personnel to increase existing clinical staff.
He said to augment the efforts of clinical staff, in September, 2018, the Ministry of Health received further financial clearance to employ 14,254 Nurse Assistants (Clinical and Preventive).
He said these nurse assistants belong to the tranche that passed their exams in 2016 from Government Health Training Institutions, and have commenced work by 1st February, 2019.
President Akufo-Addo said the Ministry of Health was working to obtain financial clearance for the recruitment of the 2017 and 2018 graduates.
He said the health delivery system would be significantly strengthened by the expected arrival in June of 275 ambulances; that is one per constituency, to make treatment of emergency cases more effective.
He said drone technology had also been introduced into that system to help deliver essential medicine, blood and blood products to remote communities.
“We still face problems of inadequate infrastructure in our health establishments. We have problems of numerous structures at various stages of completion that cannot be finished and brought into use, because newer structures are being started, and there is no money to finish the ones started earlier.”
He said again, this was a long-standing problem that was a mark of our underdevelopment.
“We will not ignore or sweep the problem under the carpet. We are dealing with it, and will complete them,” he said.