Dr Anarfi Asamoah-Baah, the Presidential Coordinator for COVID-19 Response, has commended Ghana’s health sector for demonstrating high competency in fighting the pandemic.
He said the swiftness with which the sector mobilized resources to contain the odds of the pandemic was commendable, and that had resulted in the present defeat of the virus.
Dr Asamoah-Baah, who was the Special Guest of Honour at Ghana’s Annual 2022 Health Sector Summit, which opened in Accra on Monday, also acknowledged the immense contributions of all sector development partners, leading to the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He, however, noted that despite the achievements, the pandemic exposed the vast weakness in the country’s health infrastructure, especially its information systems, but was quick to add how those challenges could be resolved.
These included the expansion of the intensive care units and the enhancement of the information management systems.
“In the early times of the pandemic in Ghana, we were to generate real-time information on a daily basis, but this became a challenge since our systems in place were not designed to work in that manner,” he said.
The three-day Summit, which was on the theme: of “Strengthening Ghana’s Health Information System for Tracking Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” was apt, as it provided a unique opportunity for players in the sector to evaluate the performance of the previous year, based on the achievements and challenges.
The interactive session would also delve into the most pressing issues in healthcare innovation, and how to improve Ghana’s health information system to track the UHC.
Dr Asamoah-Baah called for the development of a comprehensive framework to guide Health Information Systems, and leverage existing data by synchronising information scattered within the health institutions, to effectively direct national policies for quality service delivery.
He said limitations, including the lack of investment in health infrastructure and tools, computers, and free Wi-Fi services, were inhibiting the smooth training of personnel to become abreast of modern global health trends and ICT for effective data collection, management, and dissemination.
That would also help in changing the mindset of those professionals about health research, he said and urged them to share the information to help deal with misinformation and disinformation.
“Again, in developing our health information systems, we should not see the health sector as an island. The health sector should be linked directly with the government’s digitisation efforts,” he said.
Dr Asamoah-Baah mentioned the development of policy framework, roadmap, essential packages, the National Health Insurance Scheme, an ambitious infrastructure; the “Agenda 111”, massive training and recruitment as some building blocks being put in place by the Government to track UHC.
He said while it was important to track all the impute, it was key to also look at the health outcomes, to find out if the interventions were impacting positively on the health of Ghanaians.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, said the financing gap, the poor adherence to standards, low workforce capacity and other challenges in health information systems, were not exceptional to Ghana, adding that some progress had been made over the years.
“We’ve put together a schedule of hybrid activities, panel discussions, and lectures, as well as a variety of networking opportunities for participants,” he said.
“We, therefore, need to rethink and redesign our work information architecture to respond adequately to addressing problematic inefficiencies towards an accelerated rate to achieve the UHC,” he added.
He assured Ghanaians of the sector’s collective resolve to improve healthcare services at all levels through a renewed commitment to digitisation to assure citizens of high quality of life.
Mr Fiachra McAsey, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF Ghana, represented the health partners, who affirmed their sustained support of the country’s health delivery system.
Topics to be discussed at the Summit include Health Data Governance for UHC, Capacity of the Health System to generate, manage and use health data, Infrastructure, Architecture, and Interoperability.