CHAG annual conference addresses universal healthcare coverage and quality services

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The Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), the second-largest healthcare service in the country, with 385 health facilities and training institutions, has successfully organized its 2024 annual conference in Koforidua. The programme, themed 'Ghana's journey to universal healthcare coverage: Addressing healthcare quality and human resources challenges,' featured various speakers who focused on universal healthcare coverage and quality services. Delivering the keynote address, Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, said that while access to healthcare services was crucial, the quality of those services was equally vital. He stated that, despite substantial disparities in global health service delivery, there were uniform objectives of assessment and expectations of quality standards that must be upheld. 'Across the globe, we face disparities in health quality, with significant variations between regions, urban and rural areas, and ev en within individual healthcare facilities,' he said.  He noted that these disparities often led to unequal health outcomes, perpetuating vicious cycles of illness and poverty, and eroding the gains made in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  He explained that improving healthcare quality involves a multifaceted approach and that it required stakeholders to invest in robust healthcare infrastructure, ensuring that facilities were adequately equipped and staffed with competent workforce.  About nine million people benefit from the services of CHAG, especially those in remote areas of the country who are unable to reach the urban areas to access healthcare delivery.  Prof. Debo noted that the health system could only function with health workers who are really trained to be knowledgeable, competent, highly skilled, and motivated.  However, he noted that countries faced varying degrees of socioeconomic challenges that spanned to cover difficulties in education, employment, deployment, retenti on, and performance of health workforce. Referencing the World Health Organisation, he said: 'We are facing a severe global health workforce crisis with critical shortages, an imbalanced skills mix, and an uneven geographical distribution of health professionals, leaving millions without access to basic lifesaving health services.' Dr. Peter Yeboah, Executive Director of CHAG, noted that four years ago, the association suspended its annual conference in response to the government and society's call to combat the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. He said universal health coverage was a strategic priority and a shared responsibility for all and that explains why every year, the CHAG fraternity provides health care for about six million Ghanaians. He stated that they have 22 healthcare institutions and over 300 healthcare facilities, and these institutions enrol over 5,000 students every year, which produces about 5,000 middle-level professionals that are released to the Ministry of Health for redeployment into th e CHAG health sector. He stated that over the years, when discussing universal health coverage, the attention and idea had been paradigmatically shifting, which is why it is imperative to recognize the need to profile and address the important pillar of universal health coverage - quality of healthcare and human resources for health. He added that the lack of robust and sustainable quality systems and structures shows that 'we are failing to meet patients' needs, resulting in a loss of patient trust and confidence in the entire health system.' Over 1,000 health professionals, doctors, nurses, members of the association participated in the conference. Source: Ghana News Agency

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