Health Conditions in Ghana… Can matters be helped?

Anna-Claire Terry
Op-Ed Assignment

In 2001, Ghana established the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs. The ministry’s purpose is to coordinate and monitor gender responsive issues.
This ministry is supposedly centered on the protection of women and children in Ghana, but has it actually done its job?
It seems pointless to even found such a ministry when government officials, especially those over healthcare, or in a continuous cycle of corruption. Studies by the National Bank show that 95% of resources to healthcare have been allocated by corruption. There are reports of the negative effects corruption has had on citizens health and welfare.
Child and infant mortality rates are at an all time high. A study conducted in 2005 showed that corruption had lead to a delay in infants being vaccinated and discourages the use of public health clinics.
The whole point of the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs is better the lives of women and children. It would look at this ministry was established to simply pacify the outrage of citizens who have lost loved ones due to the government’s negligence in healthcare.
Granted, Ghana is an extremely poverty stricken country with limited resources, but a government that will not utilize the money it has to help its citizens cannot be helped. This ministry has not been functional, or the health and death rates in women and children would have improved in the last 15 years instead of gotten worse.
The Ghanaian government has increases expenditures for healthcare more than threefold over the last ten years, and healthcare is still somehow not making it to citizens.
It is also important to recognize that the ministry has achieved great things like disability policies and gender equality in some areas. However, healthcare has fallen by the waist side.
In a poll taken in Kumasi, Ghana, 65.4% of the participants said that unfair and inadequate salaries are a factor in the extreme corruption of the healthcare system.
Twenty-one percent of the participants said that they think that corruption in the healthcare sector comes from citizens’ inability to pay bribes. The payment of illegal money has basically become a requirement before anyone can access any service needed.
Only a small 13% of the participants blamed the healthcare issues on the unavailability of sufficient tools and resources to worth with. This statistic speaks volumes about what is actually going on in Ghana.
Of these respondents, 38.9% said that they have lost a family member because of a delay in surgery or medical care, stemming from corruption.
Many of the survey participants said that healthcare workers have demanded unofficial payments from them in hospitals before they would give consultations, examinations and medication. Where is the protection from things like this?
The study showed that the most corrupt healthcare personnel are doctors, followed closely by pharmacists.
There has been no action by the government to put a stop to this.
Negligence by hospitals and healthcare administrators has become such a normal occurrence in Ghana that people don’t even think to report it anymore.
Expecting mothers, infants and children have suffered the most from the lack of healthcare.
Healthcare services are ineffective and unavailable, and it all comes back to transparency. The government needs to be more transparent about where designated money for healthcare is going. Government officials need to be help accountable.
Perhaps a solution would be to raise the pay and incentives of healthcare providers to promote honest work.
It is easier said than done, especially in a country that can barely provide clean water, but a national healthcare system or insurance would benefit the population greatly.
Anti-corruption programs should be more seriously advocated.
The problems Ghana has in healthcare can be seen as a direct reflection of general governance problems. This kind of corruption can slow the development of countries like Ghana.
Corruption goes beyond the Ghanaian healthcare field. It also effects education and economics. However, the saddest effect corruption has had on this country is the effect it has on human life.

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