The government will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a health service provider this week that would enable the country to use drone technology to deliver blood supplies and essential medicines to remote communities by September, this year.
Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia made the announcement at the opening of the Annual Health Summit organised by the Ministry of Health, in Accra on Monday on the theme: ‘‘Achieving Universal Health Coverage-Using Innovative Approaches’’.
‘‘We don’t have to allow our mothers to die because we can’t have blood supplies and essential medicines sent to them,’’ Dr Bawumia said.
He said the system of delivering blood supplies and essential drugs was being implemented in some African countries including; Malawi and Rwanda.
The Vice President said the government was committed to the universal health coverage, noting that government had paid one billion out of the GHc1.2 billion health arrears inherited from the previous government.
Consequently, he said the government had also removed the 17.5 per cent VAT on all essential imported medicines to reduce the cost to medicines, while the abolished nursing trainees’ allowances had been re-instituted to enhance the training of health professionals for the country.
The five-day summit attracted critical health stakeholders and development partners, including; the World Health Organisation, United Nations Population Fund, Parliamentary Select Committee on Health and traditional authorities, to review the performance of the health sector and take decisions that would improve healthcare delivery.
Dr Bawumia said the Government, through the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives, had begun the process of procuring ambulances for all the 275 constituencies, which would become part of the national ambulance system to help in the delivery of quality health services.
He said under the Nation’s Builders Corps, which would be launched in May 1, this year, by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo about 10,000 Nurses and health Assistants would be recruited and given contracts up to three years to support the delivery of health services across the country.
Dr Bawumia said government was fashioning out innovative means to enhancing healthcare financing and expressed optimism that by June this year, it would come out with new financing approaches for sustainable healthcare financing in the country.
In that regard, he asked all identifiable health stakeholders to work towards achieving integrated and optimal health services for the people in consonance with the universal health coverage objectives.
He recalled his recent visit to the Silicon Valley in South Francisco, USA, which saw the IMB’s WATSON using artificial intelligence to analyse integrated database to improve health service delivery and enhanced the productivity of health providers.
He said that it ought to be the future of the country’s health diagnosis, noting it would be feasible if there was available data in the health sector.
Vice President Bawumia said an effective assessment of the health sector that would inform decision making relevant to the sector would require reliable, sustainable and cost-efficient health information systems.
Therefore, he said, the health sector was developing a system that would allow timely availability of reliable data for use at all levels of health service delivery.
‘‘I was informed that the system would make records of patients readily available and the database would be linked to all hospitals in the country making transactions at our hospitals paperless and seamless in patients diagnosis,’’ he said.
Dr Bawumia said maternal health indices were of major importance to any country because they were indicators of the country’s development, saying; ‘‘this is the reason why the government will continue to invest in maternal and child health programmes to minimise the risk of maternal mortality and child mortality from preventable childhood diseases’’.
Vice President Bawumia said although the preliminary results of the recently conducted maternal mortality surveys showed a substantial improvement in indices of health services the fact still remained that there were unacceptable high number of mothers and children in various health facilities across the country receiving treatment of various ailments and health complications.
He said the country’s health facilities should be places of comfort for mothers when they were in need of health services and not places of imminent danger and threat to their sacred lives.
Dr Bawumia told the gathering that government would review and strengthen health policies, which was aimed at improving access to mothers and children, while exemption policies such as free maternal health delivery, free access for children under 18 years for parents who maintained membership of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
He said providing inhibited access to mothers and children to basic healthcare was the nation’s inter-generational responsibility, saying; ‘‘we must not fail’’
Therefore, he said, it was crucial for any country that was determined to reducing maternal and child mortality to focus on mass skilled birth attendants and health personnel at the point of delivery.
He said the nation’s social policies and interventions must address the limited number of health personnel and logistics in the country’s health sector and, thus, expressed optimism that the conference would come up with recommendations to address health challenges in the country.