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Bridge The Inequalities In Health Sector   
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The Universal Access to Healthcare Campaign, a Non-Governmental Organization has called on government to bridge the inequalities in the health sector.

The campaign believed that access to equality in the health sector will reduce rural-urban, peri-urban and north and south disparities accelerate the implementation of the close-to-client policy and strengthen the concept of primary health care at the district level.

Mr Archibald Adams, National Coordinator for the Campaign made the call on Thursday at a workshop for stakeholders and media personnel on health inequalities and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) health manifesto.

He said over the years, the health situation in the country has been characterized by significant inequalities and that the health of the less endowed was improving more slowly due to financial and geographical barriers.

Mr Adams said the CSOs in 2014 launched a 12-page health manifesto for 2016 to educate the public on the need to demand for Universal Health Coverage.

He stressed that Ghana and African countries ratified the Abuja declaration in 2001, which required the signatories to allocate at least 15 percent of national budget to the health sector.

Mr Adams noted that the country’s health sector budget for 2015 was 9.47 percent while 9.26 percent was allocated in 2014 national budget, which demonstrated that, the sector was falling in terms of priority for the government.

“The only time the national budget met the 15 percent of the Abuja target for the health sector was in 2005, 2007 and 2013, which the country witnessed a significant improvement in infrastructure and human resource for health training,” he said.

Mr Adams said access to health was a Universal Human Right enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone had the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and the family.

“The Universal Health Coverage is ensuring that all people can use preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services needed by the citizenry while ensuring both financial and geographical accessibility and affordability,” he said.

The goal is to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.

The campaign commended government for the establishment of the National Health Insurance Scheme and expressed worry about the coverage since as at 2013, only 39 per cent of the population has been covered by the scheme.

He said Ghanaians pays for health care but only minority benefit and that about 70 percent of the scheme is tax financed through a 2.5 percent health insurance levy added to Value Added Tax, stressing that the main challenges facing the scheme were underfunding, late release of funds and fraud.

The WHO Report 2010 established the serious effects of health care cost, with nearly 150 million people worldwide suffering financial hardship and 100 million being pushed below the poverty line as a result of out-of-pocket spending.

The campaign is calling for the establishment of a national health fund, demand transparency and accountability, scale up Community-Based Health Planning and Services, need for strong, efficient and well-run health system for safety and service delivery.

Mr Leonard Shang-Quartey, Policy Analyst, Integrated Social Development Centre has called for serious political commitment in domestic resources to achieve the Ministry of Health's Mid-Term Development Plan (2014-2017),Abuja target of 15 percent, the Sustainable Development Goals and the country’s 40 year Development Plan.

He said it was incumbent to build upon the experience gained from the Millennium Development Goals and enhance national capacity for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals since the country could not attain the MDGs 4, 5 and 6.

Mr Shang-Quartey urged government to ensure that each national budget dedicates at least 15 percent of the total to the health sector as stated in the Abuja Declaration and introduce innovative ways of funding the scheme.

He said the campaign and its stakeholders after the 2016 elections will continue to advocate for universal health care as part of a national movement to health equity and solidarity.
Source: GNA

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