Nima 441 and Kwaotsuru communities in the Greater Accra Region have excelled in the activities of the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programmes, a policy dialogue learnt here at the weekend.
The dialogue was organized by the Nima Watch Ayawaso West Sub-Metro Group in collaboration with Send-Ghana, an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that seeks to promote good governance practices of accountability, transparency and citizens’ participation in local governance.
The CHPS strategy has been recognized by policy makers, development partners and public health providers as a pro-poor health service at the doorstep of citizens.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) introduced the CHPS in 2000 to address fundamental challenges to access to healthcare services, particularly to rural communities.
The pr-poor strategy, planned to promote quality and equitable healthcare services to eliminate disparities in the provision of basic medical and health services, has however met challenges regarding proper organization, support and provision of logistics in communities where the CHPS concept has been instituted.
Inadequate compliance with the implementation guidelines of the CHPS zones due to lack of logistics, budgetary support and effective community participation, has rendered Community Health Officers (CHOs) and Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) tasked with carrying out the strategy often inactive or pwerless.
Ms Sandrah Sarkwah, an official of Send-Ghana, presented research findings on the CHPS operations in the three northern regions and the Greater Accra region.
While the programme has chalked some successes in some communities, the research said it had some organizational, funding and implementation challenges. More
NHEL CHPS Communities 2 Accra
Ms Sarkwah said, for example, that 86 percent of Sub-Districts Health Management Teams (SDHMTs), the supervisory body for the CHPS programme, did not prepare budgets for CHPS compounds.
The 14 percent of the SDHMTs that prepared budgets did not have separate budgets for CHPS activities, while more than three-fourth of the compounds were assisted by CHVs, with the remaining having no such support.
However, Ms Sarkwah said 93 percent of CHPS compounds with CHVs support had received some training in primary healthcare but lacked motivation to perform effectively.
With regard to community participation, Ms sarkwah said the research indicated that 86 percent of community members had acknowledged being consulted before the introduction of the CHPS in their areas.
The research again revealed that almost all communities sampled had contributed to the construction of CHPS compounds, mostly in the form of provision of labour and construction materials.
The research recommended that government increase budgetary allocations and disbursement to the health sector and ensure the transfer of funds to SDHMTs.
It also called for the need to address the capacity of professionals who run CHPS to develop separate budgets for CHPS, while asking the GHS to retrain CHOs in midwifery skills.
The GHS and communities must also motivate CHVs in the form of logistics, such as bicycles and working gear, among other things.
The dialogue appreciated the contribution of the CHPS strategy as an effective means of providing increased access to healthcare services for communities where the concept has been operating effectively.
The dialogue conceded that the success of implementation of the CHPS strategy could be unsustainable when implementation guidelines and structures put in place did not work effectively and efficiently.
There is therefore the need to motivate Community Health Committees (CHCs), CHOs and CHVs with logistics such as shelter, bicycles, and torch-lights for effective healthcare delivery.
Mr Mohammed T.D. Sakibu, Nima Watch Organization Director, had in opening remarks, called for a dispassionate discussion of issues, saying the dialogue was not a fault-finding forum.
Rather, he said it was for a frank discussion aimed at assessing the achievements or failures of the CHPS concept as it operated in the various communities and to address the challenges.
Mr Sakibu was not however happy that some community leaders and chiefs invited to the dialogue had failed to turn up to discuss the concept which was introduced in the area in 2011.
Ms Margaret Nortey, public health nurse, recounted the efforts so far made in introducing the concept in the Ayawaso Sub-Metro area.
She said the CHPS strategy was introduced in the area in 2011 and had by 2012 established 12 zones.
By the beginning of this year, she said the number had shot up to 17 and commended Nima 441 and Kwaotsuru zones for special mention as having seriously patronized the CHPS strategy.
Ms Nortey recounted the activities of the CHPS compounds, which included field inspection, services relating to reproductive health and child health care and the checking of hypertension and diabetes, ante-natal and post-natal cases, among other services.
She listed lack of shelter, chairs and tables for the CHOs and CHVs and apparatus to check various ailments as some of the challenges faced by CHOs in the area.
Ms Nortey therefore called on political, chiefs, opinion leaders, and religious leaders to help in the effective implementation of the CHPS strategy for improved health delivery.
The stakeholders at the dialogue agreed on the need to educate the communities on the CHPS concept and activities.
They also called for effective collaboration with the media to intensify education in the communities to enable them to know the kind of services available in the various CHPS compounds.
The stakeholders, realizing the low level of awareness in some communities, called on all sub-metro directors to enlighten their assembly members on the CHPS activities to attract their participation and cooperation.
However, they agreed on the necessity to secure funding to erect structures and procure logistics to support the CHPS activities in the communities to reap maximum benefits from the concept at little cost. GNA