A campaign that seeks to create demand for family health services and increase coverage to bridge gaps in access to quality health care delivery has been launched at Asokore Mampong in the Ashanti Region. It is christened “Health Nnoboa” campaign and was initiated by the 1mCHW Campaign of Millennium Promise and its partners, Ashanti Regional Health Directorate, Ghana Health Service, Youth Employment Agency and the Rotary Club. The occasion was also used to introduce some Community Health Officers (CHOs) who have undergone some days of intensive training in basic health care services to the community.
The health ‘Nnoboa’ initiative of the Community Health Officers (CHOs) and Community Health Workers (CHWs) is a local concept adopted from the agricultural sector and which simply means supporting group farming. Under this concept, a group of farmers, about ten (10) agree to join forces to visit a member’s farm to weed without charging and taking turns to do same on each other’s farm till they finish cultivating in a season. The host farmer bears all the cost in terms of logistics, food and accommodation of their visitors.
To kick start the Health ‘Nnoboa’ Campaign, more than 400 CHOs and CHWs from thirteen (13) districts in the Ashanti Region, were invited by their colleague CHOs and CHWs in the Asokore Municipality on Thursday, August 31, 2017, for a one-day embarkation of a community outreach program to educate and counsel the people about primary health care.They covered areas such as counseling on exclusive breast feeding, family planning, maternal and child nutrition, immunization, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). They also counseled the young ones in the community about teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the need for them to abstain from early sex and concentrate on their education since that is the key to a brighter future.
The Asokore Mampong Municipality has been identified as one particular area where all the health indicators in the locality are very low, thereby, putting the health needs of the people at risk. With a population of over 340,000, the community has no government hospital or polyclinic. The few private clinics in the area are also not able to contain the population. Patients desirous of accessing quality health care then have to spend huge amount of money to travel to neighbouring districts or the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital for treatment.
Addressing a durbar prior to the embarkation of the community outreach program by the CHOs and the CHWs, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health, Dr. Alexis Nang-Beifubah, said even though Asokore Mampong Municipality is in town, it is more deprived and has more complex health problems than any other district in the region, hence, the need to introduce innovative programs such as the CHOs and CHWs ‘Nnoboa’ that would bridge the health needs of the people. “This is not happening in any other community because elsewhere we do only community health running and services using only the community health officers but here we’re reaching out to the community with our frontline health workers, the CHOs and the CHWs. We expect that it is going to improve health outcomes and the health needs of pregnant women and children under five,” he noted.
The Country Director of 1mCHW of Millennium Promise, Chief Nat Nsarko, addressing the gathering commended Dr. Alexis for commitment towards ensuring that health coverage covers all areas in the Ashanti Region. “Due to the work done by the Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Alexis, Ghana is leading in the scale up of the CHWs initiative worldwide,” he said. He bemoaned the lack of investment in the health sector, especially, in the areas of primary health care, stressing that when the basics are done right, the country would be relieved of spending huge amount of money on health infrastructure projects. “We are encouraging our government that if we really want to make good use of our health insurance, then we must invest more in primary health care, community health officers and invest in strengthening our health systems as well as our community health workers. That is the only way by which we will be able to make good use of our meager resources in the country as a people and save the National Health Insurance Scheme from sinking,” he emphasized.
On his part, the Chief of Asokore Mampong, Nana Boakye Ansah Debrah II who chaired the event urged the CHOs to dedicate their all towards the sustainability of the program in the community. “Your footprints will determine the survival of the community health outreach program and will remain in the history books of the Asokore Mampong,” he noted.
The Municipal Chief Executive of the area, Alhaji Alidu Seidu, commenting on the initiative, decried the lack of health infrastructure in the community, noting that the absence of such facilities has really put his people in a very serious disadvantage position where they have to spend so to access quality health care in neighbouring districts. He said due to the lack of health infrastructure in the community, Asokore Mampong has always performed abysmally in the health league, a situation he pledged to turnaround having received the full support of the chief of the area.
Ms. Theresa Osei-Tutu, Chair of the Ghana National PolioPlus Committee of the Rotary International, commenting on the initiative called for linkages in achieving quality health care delivery in the country. She urged the CHOs and CHWs to make a difference in the community they are going render their services.