IN spite of continued efforts by the government to address the serious manpower constraints in the health sector, the doctor-patient ratio does not appear any better today.
Latest figures at the Ministry of Health put the doctor-patient ratio in Ghana at 1:17,733, something the ministry describes as very disturbing.
In all there are 1,190 doctors in the country with a large chunk of the number (839 or 70 per cent) based in the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions.
The Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, made this known in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the third annual scientific meeting of the College of Health Sciences of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) at Ejisu near Kumasi last Friday.
It was on the theme: “Reproductive and child health, current trends and challenges.”
The scientific meeting was designed to offer the college the opportunity to evaluate its performance over the previous year, and report on its research work, as well as its role and place in the health delivery system.
It also encouraged professionals in the college to chart a new course that would not only sustain the development of their profession, but also join other co-workers to harness the limited resources at their disposal to deliver better health services to the people.
Dr Kumbuor put the nurse-patient ratio at 1:1,510 while that of the midwife to patient at 1:7,200, adding that an additional 8,000 midwives were needed to fill the existing gap.
Stressing the enormity of the challenges in the human resource area of the sector, the minister said: “The way forward requires education and capacity building of personnel, as well as continued strengthening of health systems.”
He indicated that it was becoming difficult for the nation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on health by 2015.
“There is a real danger that the appalling mortality figures for pregnant women will continue unless communities, agencies, NGOs and other partners renew their efforts at ensuring that the health workforce are available and no woman dies while giving birth,” he said.
In a speech, a maxillofacial surgeon at the KNUST Medical School and one of the brains behind the scientific conference idea, Prof. Dr Dr G. Wireko Brobby, stressed the need for doctors to reciprocate the investment made in them by the people of the nation.
“It behoves us to put our services at the disposal of those who need us most; that is the good people of this country and not the affluent societies of Europe and America,” he said.
Prof. Dr Dr Brobby further called for qualitative family planning services to prevent maternal deaths and also promote a healthy population.
Expressing regret about the African belief that making more children was a symbol of strength and affluence, the Professor added that, “The African treasures his potency more than the brain.”
Prof. R.C. Abaidoo, Provost of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. K.K. Adarkwa, commended the College of Health Sciences for instituting the annual scientific conference.