Smallholder farmers in the rural parts of the country are finding it very difficult to access healthcare and this is seriously affecting agriculture production in the country .
This was made known during a regional forum organized by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) held in Bolgatanga on Wednesday.
The forum which was on the theme, “Health Care Delivery in the Northern Sector, “and attracted stakeholders, including District Directors of the Ghana Health Services, District Directors of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Regional Directors, Managers of the National Health Insurance Scheme and Civil Society Organizations, was to chart the way forward to address the health needs of the farmers.
Speaking at the forum, the Programme Officer of the PFAG, Mr Charles Nyaba , indicated that the smallholder farmer contributes 80 to 90 per cent of the labour force to the agriculture sector, and more than 90 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product, and yet many of them found it difficult to access health care.
He said a research conducted in some selected communities in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West, by his outfit and supported by STAR-Ghana confirmed the fact that it was very difficult accessing health care and attributed the problem to lack of health infrastructure, transportation, shortage of health professionals as well poor attitudes of health workers towards them.
Most the smallholder farmers, he stressed, had to commute far distances to enable them access health care and the situation was even worse for pregnant women.
Another major health challenge confronting the smallholder farmers is inadequate knowledge of the operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) particularly renewing and registration of the cards including the absence of CHPS compounds in many of the smallholder farming communities.
Mr Nyaba indicated that although through support from STAR-Ghana his outfit had been able to facilitate a series of education and engagements in some districts between the farmers and health providers which had brought an appreciable level of changes there was still more left to be done to make the situation better.
The participants who were drawn from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, stressed the need for government to prioritize the health needs of smallholder farmers since they hold the key to food security of the country.
They called for more CHPS compounds, posting of more health workers, improving upon the NHIS in the rural area and empowering the farmers to renew and register, as well as improve upon the road network. GNA