The UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, was in Ghana recently to discuss trade and developmental partnership with The Republic of Ghana; and in the process announced an 18.5ml British Pounds grant to finance the equipping of some Government Health Facilities in Wa, Tepa, Bekwai, and in Kumasi.
While this development is welcome news, we need to quickly realize that there is renewed investor confidence in the future of the Ghanaian Economy, plus the UK needing to nest new Trade and Economic Partnership Agreements with other markets, in view of the imminent BREXIT—where the UK is estimated to ‘lose’ about 54% of its trade volumes with the European Union.
It may be argued that Ghana is, therefore, better placed to negotiate with the UK from a position of strength, so the ‘indecent haste’ with which The Trade Ministry has had some negotiation with the UK bothers me. For a new government that is yet to read its first budget, and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo scheduled to deliver his first State of the Nation Address(SONA) in 2 days; this government cannot be said to be settled yet, and may not be in optimum shape to clinch the best of deals.
Additionally, some 2 aspects of Boris Johnson’s offer appear irregular to me; 1) why should a grant facility meant for health be routed through the Trade and Industry Ministry? and 2) Why specify the facilities to be equipped?
Going forth, I recommend that such funds should be hedged into a Health Services Investment Fund(HESIF). This should be couched under the ambit of the Ministry of Health, and should be dedicated to building capacity for Specialized Healthcare delivery, and providing equipment for specialty care.
The fund should be run by a Fund Manager who takes direction from a Board of Trustees, who themselves may recommend instruments into which a percentage of the fund may be invested, medium to long term. The fund base may be provided by a deduction from the NHIL, direct Patients and Clients Levy for those directly accessing specialized care, and from the Health Donor Pool Fund.
Currently, Postgraduate Medical Training can be described as in a mess, with Specialist Doctors under training being charged ‘school fees’ including Tuition, and struggling for their own transit accommodation at the training centre. The training of Surgeon and an Anaesthetist, for example, may be supported from the HESIF; so that these 2 can be deployed to a peripheral health facility, to provide surgical care, alongside provision of anaesthetic machines/surgical instruments to such a facility from the HESIF. This ultimately may help to decentralize specialist care, and therefore a serious consideration should be given to this HESIF proposal.
Source : Dr. Ernest Kwarko, is a Medical Practitioner and a Public Interest Advocate.