The final workshop to assess the contribution of the private sector in health care delivery in Ghana, began in Accra on Monday.
The workshop, a follow-up to a similar one organised in December last year, would review findings and recommendations, make concrete plans for action to implement the recommendations and report results to the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders.
The study was conducted by Centre for Health and Social Services, Results for Development Institute, Santiago-based Bitran and Asociados and the African Centre for Economic Transformation with funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC)/World Bank Health in Africa Initiative.
It was to document the size and configuration of private providers and their contribution to the health sector to be well-informed about distribution and issues they face to enable policy makers to engage with the sector effectively.
Some of the key findings include the fact that Self-Financing Private (SFP) providers were major suppliers of all forms of care excerpt hospital care and that hospital care was 20 per cent of beds in the five urban districts studied.
Others are that SFP, human resources for health and government providers were concentrated in the urban centres where as Christian Hospital Associations and chemical sellers were concentrated in the rural areas.
The study among others recommended the establishment of a joint task force to address immediate and acute issues of health insurance, including fraud, delays in reimbursement and slow accreditation, raising the standard and increase the staffing.
Others were providing more resources to the private sector unit to allow it to perform the work needed to achieve the agenda of the revised private health sector policy and encourage regional standardisation of drug registration and expand cooperation on testing and surveillance.
It would also identify factors that created and sustained the role of the private sector in health care delivery, provide information for decision making and facilitate productive engagement between the public and private sector.
Deputy Minister of Health Rojo Mettle-Nunoo addressing the opening session said an excellent synergy could be forged between public and private sectors by recognising and drawing upon the expertise and legitimate objectives of both parties.
This, he said would present an opportunity for maintaining and building on vital infrastructure and stimulate further growth.
Mr. Mettle-Nunoo noted that private-public partnership allowed for the management of risk associated with providing infrastructure and a successful public and private partnership had to show how private participation contributed to public good.
A public-private-partnership, he said did not mean that political responsibility had delegated to the private sector but rather made political accountability more important because government still had to answer to the public.
“I believe that we arrived at these conclusions and the recommendation based on the principles of the health sector must be in the position to deliver better services to the public in a more cost effective and timely one, with less risk to the taxpayer,” he added.
He pointed out that business must contribute to providing innovative, efficient cost effective service delivery and help restore sound fiscal management in the health sector.
Mr. Mettle-Nunoo said government had taken all the risks would be shared with the private sector as they managed risks better than government.
He expressed the hope that the study would be a turning point in the adoption of the concept of a public-private partnership in health.
Dr. Khama Rogo, of the World Bank/IFC Health in Africa Initiative, said most African countries might not be able to meet the targets of attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
He attributed the failure to high rate of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, high child and maternal mortality rate and malnutrition all resulting from poverty, as well as poor and inadequate health infrastructure in African countries.
Dr Rogo said contribution of the private sector to health though enormous, remained handicapped in inadequate public policies and regulations to support the sector, lack of finance, expertise, quality assurance and improvement, insufficient supply of skilled health workers, as well as lack of financial protection or sustainable financing.
Africa, he said needed to effectively use its resources and engaged rather than ignored the private sector to make the private sector an integral part of their national health strategy.
He was hopeful with the input made by Mali and Kenya, the final and third meeting would explicitly identify areas that when tackled could move the health sector forward.
Dr George Amofa, Deputy Director General of Ghana Health Service, said objectives of the study were to determine role of the private sector, diagnosed the nature and effectiveness of the interface between the public and private sectors and engaged policy dialogue with stakeholders.
Mr. Sylvester Asemana, Acting Chief Director of Ministry of Health said there was the need to acknowledge the role of the private sector and provide them the necessary resources to complement government’s effort.
He called for significant strategy and recommendation to build bridges and reap the benefits of working together.
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