On 7th and 8th of February 2018, Ghana Health Servive (GHS) Headquarters staff together with all the 10 Regional Health Directorates had a maiden joint meeting in Accra with USAID, USAID Implementing Partners and UNICEF as well as other Development Partners. It was a well attended event and the GHS promised to make it an annual affair and even to expand it in the near future to include other Development Partners.
Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of Ghana Health Service, welcomed all and commented that he was excited about this meeting since it was his first joint planning and review meeting since taking office. He commended the efforts of the Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PPMED) and the development partners UNICEF and USAID for putting together this important meeting. He thanked all the development partners for their continuous support but bemoaned the fact that they seemed to be concentrated in some regions whiles other equally deprived regions are totally left out. Dr. Nsiah-Asare concluded his remarks by encouraging other development partners to join UNICEF and USAID in the next joint planning and review meeting, which was held in December 2018.
Welcome remarks by Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of GHS
During this follow-up joint meeting, one more time, Dr Nsiah-Asare expressed his appreciation to all participants and especially UNICEF, USAID and the MoH for their support and contributions that made the meeting a success. He urged all to contribute their respective quota in the outlined strategic decisions and activities from the joint review meeting in order to ensure that we achieve the objectives of the health sector. According to him, GHS will sustain its engagement with development partners so that we can have a harmonized plan that addresses the persistent challenges in the service. In his view, the organizers of the meeting did a great job in terms of the content and process and outcome of the meeting. He finally commended all for the great job done and tasked all regional and HQ directors to submit a one-page document of all UNICEF/USAID supported projects in their respective Regions which will be complied as part of the annual programm of work.
Ms. Lilian Selenje thanked GHS on behalf UNICEF for a very productive session and meaningful discussions. She commented that at a stage where UNICEF is in the process of developing their workplan for 2018 and 2019, the discussions at this meeting were direct input into the planning process. Ms. Rebecca Fertziger from USAID added her voice and thanked all for their active participation. She expressed her delight in the representation of major stakeholders at this important meeting.
In order to monitor the progress of implementation of activities from the joint planning review, the Director General imbued upon the PPMED to organize quarterly monitoring and evaluation meetings to document and share the progress of implementation. It was also pointed out that development partners should agree on areas for priority support in addressing equitable distribution of resources. He was optimistic that the next meeting would be in the GHS learning center at Pantang which he is seeking support from partners and other financiers for construction.
In his closing remarks, the chairman for the meeting, Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira reiterated the urgency to conceive the idea of Ghana beyond aid and how it will impact on sustaining funding of proven interventions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In his view, programmatic inefficiencies over the years have brought to light the need to address challenges in the system. Critical to the Ghana beyond aid agenda is the sustaining of last mile distribution after USAID leaves the system. Moreover, it is envisaged that the reforming of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) will help to properly address problems with shortages of commodities through resourcing of health facilities by adequate and timely payment of claims. The Global Fund Health Systems Grant according to the Dr. Appiah-Denkyira will provide the opportunity for strengthening the health system in addressing cross-cutting systems challenges. Additionally, the joint planning meeting afforded the opportunity to identify key areas that need to be addressed by partners. It is therefore important in the next meeting, an appraisal of performance in these areas is conducted in order to determine whether the resources spent on them has yielded the expected results.
Overall, he was hopeful that with strong partnership, we can achieve the SDGs and Universal Health Coverage (UHC). He called on other health providers such as the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), teaching Hospitals other private sector entities to come on board the joint partner planning and review meeting to plan adequately to achieve the 2030 SDG targets.