Debates of 13 Mar 2007

Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Order! Order!




GHANA 10 a.m.







Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Correction of Votes
and Proceedings, Friday 9th March, 2007. Page 1, 2, 3 --
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I notice that on page 3, the list of attendees, No. 93, hon. Mrs. Grace Coleman has been listed as being present. I guess it was a mistake because she was absent with permission.
Mr. Speaker 10 a.m.
Correction will be made. Page 4 … 10.
Hon. Members we have the Official Reports for Wednesday, 13th December, 2006 and Thursday 15th February, 2007.


Mr. Abuga 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to find out from the hon. Minister whether in view of the terrain of the area in which these two
health centres are located, he will consider improving some of the facilities at the place, even if they cannot be upgraded to the level the request is being made for.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, I think I mentioned it in the Answer that we were extending the maternity wing of the Tongo Health Centre. We are trying to improve the facilities there to make sure that they can take care of some of the minor emergency cases.
Typhoid and Bilharzia along the Afram River
Q. 769. Mr. Raphael Kofi Ahaligah asked the Minister for Health what steps the Ministry was taking to eradicate typhoid and bilharzias along the Afram River.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Bilharzias is a disease caused by a parasite which normally lives in snails in fresh water and gets into the human body by penetrating the skin. The infective form of the parasite normally emerges from snails in the water, usually while the person is working, swimming or wading in the water. The parasite then penetrates the skin, enters the blood stream and is carried to blood vessels of the urinary bladder or other organs.
People with bilharzias may complain of pain on passing urine, passing urine frequently and passing blood in urine especially at the end of urination. They may spread the infection by discharging eggs of the parasite through urination into other water bodies.
In the past, the Ministry of Health controlled this disease by mass treatment method of distributing preventive drugs free of charge to endemic areas. However, we have had to take a second look at this mass treatment method because of the
expenses involved. The current approach is to use health promotion campaigns to prevent the disease. Specifically, we
educate people to seek treatment early and to protect themselves from getting infected.
advise people to dispose of urine and faeces so that viable eggs of parasite will not reach bodies of fresh water; and
prevent exposure to contaminated water by avoiding swimming or wading in contaminated water and to wear boots if it is absolutely necessary to wade in contaminated water.
The campaign requires the joint responsibility of the Ministry of Local government, Rural Development and Environment especially the District Assemblies and the Health Education Unit of the Ghana Health Service.
Typhoid fever is caused by small germs (bacteria) through the ingestion of food and water contaminated by faeces and urine of patients and carriers. This disease is a consequence of poor personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and pollution of water bodies.
The preventive and control measures include the following:
Prevention is based on access to safe water as well as adherence to safe food handling practices.
Educate people on the importance of hand washing especially after visiting the toilet or before eating. Provide washing fac i l i t i es , particularly for food handlers and
attendants involved in the care of patients and children.
Dispose of human excreta safely and maintain fly-proof latrines.
Protect, purify and chlorinate public water supply.
Here again, the campaign for prevention and total eradicate is the joint responsibility of the Ministries of Water Resources, Works and Housing to provide safe drinking water and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment and particularly the District Assemblies.
The Ministry of Health in the Eastern Region in particular is collaborating with the District Assemblies, including the Afram Plains to protect water bodies and to improve environmental sanitation at every level.
Clinical care on bilharzias and typhoid is also being provided in our health facilities within the region.
Mr. Ahaligah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister says that the District Assembly and the Ministry are collaborating to help the various institutions within the Afram Plains. May I know if he has any immediate programme for my area since that is the killer disease within my area, especially along the Afram River.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, in the reports that were submitted from the various regions, this thing had been captured as a nuisance in the Afram Plains area. I think that we always have what we call District Health Committees and I am sure that the health committee in the Afram Plains is working very, very well with the Assembly to find a solution to this problem in the area. And I am sure that as at now, they are also considering
a situation where we could possibly give the preventive medicines free of charge. So if you go there right now, I think that the health committee is working very, very hard to get this problem under control.
Ms. Sena Akua Dansua 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister did not fully answer the Question relating to bilharzias. The hon. Member sought to know what steps he is taking to eradicate - and by eradication I think it is prevention and cure of bilharzias; he only spoke about prevention.
What specific step is he taking to ensure that people who have been infected are cured?
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, at the latter part of the Answer where I was dealing with the typhoid also, you remember I mentioned that our health facilities are available and they are offering treatment to those who are affected by the disease.
Mr. Francis A. Agbostse 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, when we were young, including the hon. Minister for Health, the Ministry of Health used to send teams around, especially to schools, where these treatments were given. He is telling us that it is so expensive that they cannot do it today.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to find out
from the hon. Minister how come they cannot do this now, especially among school children.

Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker,

the era the hon. Member is talking about is so many years back and the population of this country at that time was around six million and scattered all over. The situation has demanded that a second look

[MAJ. QUASHIGAH (RETD)] should be taken on what is going on as far as the cure is concerned.

So if the hon. Member would notice, we are hammering so much now on health promotion, and that is an intensive education to the people on prevention of diseases to make sure that the people themselves take control of their own health. And I think that this is going on very well in all the districts. I believe that the hon. Member's district is also involved in this.
Mr. R. A. Tawiah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister, in his Answer he did indicate that education is one of the ways they are using to control and eradicate the problem. I want to find out from him, when was the last time they went on an education campaign, in partnership with the sector Ministries, to educate the people there concerning these two killer diseases?
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, I presume when the hon. Member asks when was the last time I went, he is referring to the Ministry, because obviously it would not be me as a person who would be going round doing this education. It would interest the hon. Member to know that I am leading personally a campaign of education as far as health promotion is concerned in this country, and the knowledge of nutrition in this country; and I believe he might have been hearing it in the news.
However, our collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports is going on extremely well; we bring them into our planning situations. As he knows, we used to have Health Education Unit and we still have the Health Education Unit that normally goes round to coordinate with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports for educating the people against some of these diseases.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Question number 813, Hon. Joe Gidisu, Member for Central Tongu?
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member has asked me to seek your permission to ask the Question on his behalf.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
It is granted, go ahead.
Mafi Kumase Health Post
Q. 813. Mr. A. K. Agbesi (on behalf
of Mr. Joe Gidisu) asked the Minister for Health what steps were being taken to upgrade the Mafi Kumase Health Post to a hospital status taking into consideration the vast catchment areas it serves.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mafi Kumase currently has a Health Centre with key staff comprising a Midwife and Medical Assistant. The Ministry recognizes that Mafi Kumase is in close proximity to the Adidome Hospital, which is a District Hospital. It is only 15km from Adidome, and is not currently on the Ministry's list of priority facilities for upgrading to a district hospital yet.
The Adidome hospital currently serves as a referral hospital for Mafe Kumase and is planned for major rehabilitation, which will be captured in the Ministry's 2008 budget.
Mr. Agbesi 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the hon. Minister whether it is because of the closeness to Adidome that is why it cannot be upgraded or because it has not been captured in his list of centres that are earmarked for upgrading.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member would notice that as and when population grows in some of these areas, we tend to upgrade the health centres into hospitals. And we do a lot of
consideration in deciding on which clinic would be upgraded. In this case, we also take into consideration the proximity of that location to other bigger hospitals; and we are very mindful of the distances involved. Normally, it should not be beyond 25km; that would be adequate enough for referral situations from the health centres to the district hospitals.
But I can assure him that as the
population grows and money is available most of these hospitals would be upgraded to the status of district hospitals.
Mr. Agbesi 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, Mafi Kumase is next in population to Adidome. Indeed, the population of Mafi Kumase ranges above 10,000. I want to know from the hon. Minister whether with this figure and in the immediate future, like six months or a year, he could consider upgrading this health centre.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member wants to pin me down to time. I do not want to make a commitment which I cannot fulfill. I would plead, Mr. Speaker, that we are given time to go through these considerations and I am sure that we would get to Mafi Kumase very soon.
Mr. F. A. Agbotse 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister, in view of lack of money which is stated in his Answer, would it be possible, because of the distance of just 15km, for a doctor from Adidome Hospital to visit Mafi Kumase from time to time to look at the health of the people?
Maj. Quashigah (retd.): Mr. Speaker, that is a possibility but the Medical Assistants that we have are very equal to the task. They are very well trained and they have been experienced nurses for a very long time; and in upgrading them to
Medical Assistants, we take them through a two-year intensive course. So they even do minor operations at that level. And so if it is possible, what they do is to inform the doctor in Adidome Hospital to come and look at special cases or at best refer the cases to the doctor at the Adidome Hospital.
Health Centre for Mame Krobo
Q. 836. Mr. Raphael Kofi Ahaligah
asked the Minister for Health, if the Ministry would consider siting a health centre at Mame Krobo.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, Mame Krobo is about 12 km away from Kwesi Fante where we have an operational health centre with the key staff comprising a midwife and medical assistant. The Ministry has, under the current limitations in the budget, provided an operational Community Health Planning Services (CHPS) facility at Mame Krobo to meet the health needs of the populace. The upgrading of the facility at Mame Krobo will be considered as soon as adequate funding is available.
Mr. Ahaligah 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister if he is aware of the population of the area, because Mame Krobo is a market centre. Every market day we have more than 20,000 to 30,000 people in the market which I know, with the current staff at the health centre at Mame Krobo, they may not be able to cope with. Because, a lot of accidents happen and they are not able to cope with them. So I would like to find out if his Ministry has an immediate plan to send some extra staff to Mame Krobo.
Maj. Quashigah (retd): Mr. Speaker, I talked about the CHPS compounds and indeed this is the new drive of the Ministry, to make sure that we can position the CHPS compounds within 8km radius to make sure that people can have access to
healthcare. When the CHPS compounds started, we were positioning one qualified nurse; it is the immediate plan of the Ministry to increase this number to at least three people.
So obviously, to answer your question, we have plans to increase the staff but what is interesting is that most of the District Assemblies themselves are providing accommodation facilities to attract staff to their areas, and I believe that Mame Krobo will be considering this option also.
Donkorkrom Presbyterian Hospital Maternity Block (Completion)

Q. 878. Mr. Joseph Tsatsu Agbenu asked the Minister for Health, when the maternity block for the Presbyterian Hospital at Donkorkrom would be completed.

Maj. Quashigah (rted.): Mr. Speaker, the Presbyterian Hospital at Donkorkrom is a Mission Hospital of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. As part of Govern- ment's support for access to health services delivery especially in deprived areas, Government supports such Mission Hospitals with capital investment projects.

The Ministry started the rehabilitation of the Maternity ward of the hospital, however, due to financial constraints, the project stalled because of inadequate funding. Provision will however be made in our 2008 budget.

The Ministry would be very grateful if the District Assembly could also support this project.
Mr. Agbenu 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the former Government, that is the National Democratic Congress Government assisted the Presbyterian Church to start the project. Why can the present

Government not continue to complete the project?

Maj. Quashigah (rted.): Mr. Speaker, obviously, I did say that we have been talking to the District Assemblies; those that are capable really are helping a lot even in putting up some of these facilities, which we supply to the staff. I have already said that we are inviting all the District Assemblies to help in the provision of the physical structure and we are ready to staff them.
Mr. Agbenu 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Presbyterian Hospital was a Government clinic handed over to the Mission to operate. I want to find out why the Government is leaving every project work to the Mission alone?
Maj. Quashigah (rted.): Mr. Speaker, the Christian Health Association of Ghana under their own arrangement are responsible for putting up the structures; that is what they want to do. What we would help them to do is to provide the staff and pay them, and that is exactly what we have been doing. But in some cases - very rare cases - we help in providing some extra facilities. So it is their own mandate to provide the structures for every project; we staff and pay them.
Mr. Agbesi 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister said the project has been stalled, meaning that it is not on-going at the moment. I want to know whether there is any interim measure, because the needs of the people must be served in the interim. What are they doing in the interim?
Maj. Quashigah (rted.): Mr. Speaker, the hospital is still functioning, even in that state. What is left now is to get the right funding to finish the project. I have been talking to the District Assemblies as well,
and if they can help, that will be beautiful.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Minister for Health, thank you very much for appearing to answer the Questions; you are discharged. Minister for Public Sector Reforms?
Mr. K. Agyei-Addo 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek your permission to ask this Question on behalf of the Member of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Permission granted.

REFORM 10:30 a.m.

Minister for Public Sector Reform (Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Government es tabl i shed the Ministry of Public Sector Reforms in 2005 to champion reforms in the entire public sector. The overall goal for the establishment of the Ministry is to improve service delivery by Public Service employees to facilitate good governance, private sector development and human capital development.
The Ministry, in the first year of its establishment and under trying circumstances, developed, with key stakeholders including Heads of all public service institutions listed in the Constitution, Chief Directors, Heads of Departments and Agencies, private sector operators and the Development Partners, a comprehensive work programme to guide the implementation of reforms in the public sector.
The Ministry has identified and
prioritized some cross cutting interventions that will remove existing skepticism that colours public sector reform processes as well as set the momentum for the reforms. The MPSR has also maintained a facilitative role in coordinating the implementation of the identified cross- cutting interventions.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, the Ministry has come to appreciate the importance of pay and remuneration in the working lives of the public servants and the low levels of salaries being received by all public servants, including hon. Members of Parliament. Evidence based research has also repeatedly and demonstrably linked low wages paid to public officers to a lack of commitment and professionalism and susceptibility to corruption.
In addition, it affects the ability of the Sector to attract and retain highly qualified and skilled personnel.
Government, therefore, in 2005 accepted a recommendation to implement a programme of progressive “mone- tization” of non-cash benefits in the public service. The programme seeks to gradually transform some benefits that public servants are entitled to into cash and paid to them directly, as part of their salary, so that they (the public servants) themselves will have the option and the choice to procure these services. The object of this arrangement is to improve the overall income of the public servants, thereby increasing their pensions and retirement income.
We are in the process of implementing the decision to consolidate allowances and other fringe benefits. When this is done, we will eliminate the fuelling of vehicles, paying telephone, electricity and water bills, as well as other expenses of public
Until then, the heads of public services are being asked to exercise firm control over such expenses.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to add - and I hold in my hands a circular from my hon. Colleague Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, dated 4th May, 2006 which is under the topic “Reduction of Fuel Consumption by Executive and Public Officials”. And the directive is for all Ministries and their Agencies and Departments to provide as a matter of urgency detailed information on fuel consumption by type, volume and expenditure for the years 2000 and 2005.

This was to enable us come up with the appropriate measures to handle reduction in fuel consumption within the Government and the Public Service.
Mr. K. Agyei-Addo 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, at the committee meeting recently held in February, the Minister himself was quite critical of this issue of consolidation. In view of the fact that he himself wanted to find out from the Minister when the consolidation would be done, what is the assurance that this will be done soon?
Dr. Nduom 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to assure my hon. Colleague Member of Parliament that this is a very current matter that is receiving a lot of attention. Indeed, we have a team of people - over 200 of them who are being trained to conduct job evaluations across the Public Services. Part of their mandate is also to look at this issue of consolidation as part of declining job values and also the monetary values to be assigned.
In addition, a Bill has been prepared to be submitted to Parliament, I am sure in
Mr. A. K. Agbesi 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister said the Government established the Ministry of Public Sector Reforms in 2005 to champion reforms in the entire public sector.
Mr. Speaker, for 2005, 2006 and much of 2007, the Ministry is in the process - he has just shown a document coming from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. I want to know from the Minister whether seriously his Ministry is concerned about the sector reforms and whether the Ministry is also concerned about the cost of fuel, the use of fuel and the control of fuel in this country.
Dr. Nduom 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, just yesterday we opened ourselves up to great scrutiny with the media and anyone interested in informing them about progress towards the implementation of the Public Sector Reform Work Programme and what specifically went on in 2006; and it is on record. The hon. Member, should he want it, we will give him the document for him to assess for himself the seriousness with which we are carrying out the reforms; and not only the seriousness -- we are not hiding anything.
What we have done against what was promised is documented, so that it is public knowledge; and if he wishes to bring another official or formal Question another day, I would be happy to respond. But definitely we are serious about the reforms and we are trying to do the best that we can.
Mr. Agbotse 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is an organization in Ghana called Prices and Incomes Board. The Prices and Incomes
Board was set up to do sector salary analysis. He is telling the House that he has selected 200 people who are doing exactly what the Prices and Incomes Board was set up to do. What is the position of the Prices and Incomes Board, as at now?
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
It is not a supplementary question.
Mr. Kojo Armah 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the main Answer to the Question, the Minister stated in the last put one paragraph that when the consolidation is done, we would eliminate the fuelling of vehicles, paying telephone, electricity and water bills as well as other expenses. May I know from the Minister whether this takes into account the fuelling of vehicles used purely for official duties as against those given to people, like directors, et cetera, of the various MDAs.
Dr. Nduom 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, those are some of the specifics that the team is trying to deal with, and when they come to a conclusion and the work that they are doing is done, we should be able to answer the question specifically. But just for his information; the Prices and Incomes Board is not in existence. It has been long gone so there is no such thing as Prices and Incomes Board.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Minister for Public Sector Reforms, thank you for appearing to answer these Questions; you are discharged. Item 5.

PAPERS 10:40 a.m.

Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Item 6.
M r. K y e i - M e n s a h - B o n s u : Mr. Speaker, there has been several considerations of particular provisions in this Bill and as we do know, it is being piloted by the Chairman of the Committee who unfortunately is not in the House, even though the Minister is here; they need to do some reconciliation. In the circumstances, we would appeal that we stand it down.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
You want to defer this for tomorrow?
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 10:40 a.m.
Yes, tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Item 6 deferred.
Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
beg to move that we adjourn proceedings, in the circumstances, until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.
Ms. Sena Akua Dansua 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion for adjournment.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNEMNT 10:40 a.m.