Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director- General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has expressed worry about the inequitable distribution of health workers which was skewed towards urban areas to the detriment of rural and deprived communities.
He said Greater Accra alone has about 42 percent of all medical doctors while the rest of the country contends with the remaining and this was the bane of an inclusive health service delivery towards universal health coverage.
Dr Nsiah-Asare was speaking at the 51st congregation and oath swearing ceremony of the University of Cape Coast School of Medical Sciences (UCCSMS) on Saturday where a total of 56 students made up of 35 males and 21 females were awarded Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees after the successful completion of their six-year programmes.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the anomaly must be tackled with the seriousness it deserved in order not to undermine the achievement made in the health sector over the years and outlined efforts the GHS was making to address it.
It included the developing of Human Resource Information System to track health worker availability and distribution.
Again, he said, the GHS has developed staffing norms and conducted human resource gaps analysis for all health facilities in the country which was being used to guide recruitment and redeployment exercises in the Service.
It was also considering the decentralisation of recruitment at the regional level whereby health facilities had been given recruitment quotas to advertise and manage the recruitment process for those granted financial clearance to compete for available vacancies in their preferred regions.
He said a deprived area retention scheme would be developed to provide the necessary support to enable staff accept the challenge of working in the underserved areas of the country.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the GHS needed about 105,440 health workers but could only boast of 61,756, leaving a vacancy rate of 41 per cent which was greatest among specialist health professionals such as doctors pharmacists, nurses and para-clinical staff.
Dr Nsiah-Asare called on the young doctors to accept the challenge of serving Ghanaians in the deprived and underserved areas where their services would be most needed and challenged them to exhibit professional standards and show commitment to the provision of quality and accessible health services.
Professor Joseph Ghartey-Ampiah, the Vice Chancellor of UCC, said the UCCSMS has since 2013 trained 299 doctors who were excelling in the various hospitals across the country, however, it still struggled with the challenge of inadequate infrastructure and appealed to the GETFund to release funds to complete structures at it's Medical Village.
He said the Medical Village when completed would provide better learning environment and also help the School to increase its admission intake.
Prof Ghartey-Ampiah said doctors produced from UCCSMS have strong community-based orientation for patients' care because of its Community Based-Experience and Service (COBES) module which allowed students to live in the communities to have firsthand experience of their health care needs.