This year’s Ghana Health Policy Dialogue being held in Kumasi, is extensively focusing on the country’s referral system and care for the elderly.

The dialogue, which is in its fourth edition, is under the theme: “Right care at the right place; referral policy and safekeeping system; networks and practice in NCD and geriatric care”.

The referral system deals with orders given by doctors for patients to see specialists or access certain medical services.

As of 2019, 81.4% of Ghanaians had access to primary healthcare in Ghana, while 61.4% have access to secondary-level, and 14.3% to tertiary care.

Despite these somewhat high rates of accessibility, nearly 30% of the population travel far to access primary facilities or see a specialist.

Ghana’s Ministry of Health has therefore partnered the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and the Technical University of Berlin (TUB) to address these issues.

The Ghana Health Policy Dialogue brings together key stakeholders in the health sector and academia to deliberate on urgent issues in the health sector. This is meant to inform policy in the sector.

This year’s policy dialogue seeks to identify key attributes of Ghana’s referral and gatekeeping systems.

The workshop will also explore innovative models in Non-Communicable Diseases and care for the elderly, and review existing approaches and practices in Ghana.

The dialogue will also delve into what is known as the Network of Practice which will create services as networks and by this; school-based infirmaries, work-based infirmaries, CHPS Zones will form a network of practice at the district level.

Special advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Baffuor Awuah spoke on behalf of the Minister of health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu.

“This year’s policy has been dedicated to critically evaluate the current state of our referral and gatekeeping system and to harness salient ideas to inform the review of Ghana’s national referral policy that was published in 2012.

“This year’s policy dialogue will also discuss extensively the novel health system model being championed by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service-i.e. the Network of Practice,” he said.

Professor and department head for health care management at Technical University of Berlin, Reinhard Busse, recommended the identification of the current challenges and the aim of reforms within the referral system.

“This should focus on the capacity of service delivery and the quality of care provided at the various levels, the distribution of workforce between the levels and the levels of patient confidence in service at each level,” he explained.

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Vice-chancellor representative, Prof. Adusei assured of the university’s willingness on evidence generation.

“We give you the assurance that we’ll continue to collaborate with the ministry on all these issues so that if there’s anything to do with evidence generation, we’ll come together and help,” he said.

The dialogue is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) from the budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as part of the DAAD-PAGEL programme.

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