Senior Lecturer at the Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management at the University of Ghana, Dr. Gordon Abekah-Nkrumah, has urged the government to abandon its ambitious agenda to construct 111 hospitals across the country.
He believes the initiative, dubbed Agenda 111 although well intended, will not be feasible considering constraints on fiscal expenditure.
Dr. Abekah-Nkrumah wants the government to redirect resources to restructure the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and make it more responsive to the needs of Ghanaians.
“Well, I think that Agenda 111 is a very noble idea but I think that what is noble and what is feasible are two different things. In our homes, we all think about plans but at the end of the day, we do a reality check and it seems to tell us what to do. As much as I think it’s a noble idea, I think that we do not have the finances to look at Agenda 111 in its totality and even if we do have the finances, the question will be if it’s useful? I do not think that at the moment, we need all that”, he said.
The Public Health Expert made these comments at a media engagement by the Centre for Democratic Development Ghana (CDD-Ghana) on a post-election dialogue to assess some perennial health challenges and responsiveness of the 2020 New Patriotic Party (NPP) manifesto.
President Akufo-Addo during his State of the Nation Address expressed his commitment to embark on the biggest healthcare investment in the country’s history.
The initiative is expected to see the construction of 100-bed District Hospitals in 101 districts with no hospitals, seven Regional Hospitals for the new Regions, including one for the Western Region as well as the construction of two new psychiatric hospitals for the Middle and Northern Belt.
But Dr. Abekah-Nkrumah fears the health facilities will be left to gather dust even if they are completed as the nation lacks the requisite capacity to man all these centres.
The Senior Lecturer added that, “I agree in a few places, for instance a place like Takoradi, especially in the Western Region, as a whole; we need to be able to beef up infrastructure. But I think that wholesale 111 is not needed and the amount of money that is needed to do this, I believe that money that amount of money can be invested into the NHIS to restructure it and make sure that people can have access to service.”
He further revealed that the NHIS is gradually being faced with equity challenges and called for an urgent restructuring of the scheme to address issues of inefficiencies.
Dr. Abekah-Nkrumah also proposed that systems be instituted to make the scheme accountable; all in a bid to improve healthcare delivery in the country.