Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity given me to associate myself with the Motion, that this Honourable House thanks H.E the President for the Message on the State of the Nation, which he delivered to this House on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017.
Mr Speaker, H.E the President spoke about a lot of cross-sectoral issues, and indeed, I would want to limit myself to issues thatt relate to health.
Mr Speaker, the health system in the country is critical for development and it has always been the vision of the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to see to it that the right to health of all Ghanaians is guaranteed through an established health sector with sustainable ability to develop affordable, equitable and easily accessible healthcare.
Mr Speaker, I was so much elated when His Excellency the President indicated that he would draw the experience of his predecessors, that is, the three living former heads of State, to enrich his tenure. Indeed, the President has also indicated on several platforms that he would continue all the good works initiated by his predecessor. I really commend him for that.
Mr Speaker, governments over the years have come out with a number of programmes and interventions aimed at establishing a number of health facilities across the length and breadth of the country.
Under the leadership of His Excellency President J. A. Kufuor, a number of health interventions were introduced in the health sector, and this includes the introduction and implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the free maternal healthcare, the implementation of the Community Health Planning Services concept, the establish- ment of the National Ambulance Service, expanding, equipping and increasing the
number of health facilities, capacity building and increase in the number of health professionals; establishment of the Ghana Post Graduate Medical College; introduction of regenerative health and nutrition through health promotion programmes.
Indeed, improvement in the provision of vaccines for preventable childhood diseases were also introduced, provision of highly subsidised antiretroviral medicines for HIV/AIDS patients were also introduced, as well as sanitation programmes.
Mr Speaker, infrastructural develop- ment ranging from Community Health (Based) Planning Services (CHPS) compounds, clinics, health centres, district and regional hospitals, as well as health-related teaching facilities have all been established and made functional over the years.
Mr Speaker, in spite of all these interventions, we still have a high incident of neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and child mortality in the country. Indeed, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that Ghana's maternal mortality rate as at 2016 has gone up from 350 per 100,000 childbirths to 380 per 100,000 childbirths as against the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 145 per 100,000 childbirths. This is not a good indication of our health delivery system.
Mr Speaker, indeed, most of the health related MDGs were not achieved, essentially, because we did not have the needed facilities and professionals. The critical issues confronting our health delivery systems are ineffective deployment of health professionals and lack of political will to commit sufficient resources to support the NHIS.
Indeed, it is in the light of this, that I tend to agree with His Excellency the President, and indeed, commend him when he indicated in paragraph 8 of page 11 of the State of the Nation Address, and with your indulgence, I beg to read:
“Mr Speaker, we have to be healthy if we are to make a success of the plans and aspirations we have. The National Health Insurance Scheme remains the best option we have devised to ensure that as many people as possible have access to healthcare in our clinics and hospitals.
The Scheme is not in a good state, and there are too many providers that are owed money. They are threatening to opt out and stop offering their services to the most vulnerable in the society. We shall restore the National Health In- surance Scheme to good health.”
Mr Speaker, this is good news and it is quite inspiring. I would want to urge all stakeholders, including Members of Parliament, to support this cause. The NHIS today is in a state of comatose and requires urgent financial resuscitation to regain its usefulness to Ghanaians, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
Mr Speaker, the NHIS is bedevilled with so many challenges of which the major causes are; the delay in the release of the National Health Insurance Levy, from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Health; the ever increasing financial gap that requires political will to address. It was, therefore, heartwarming when His Excellency the President intimated that we shall restore the NHIS to good health.
Mr Speaker, another area of great concern for the health sector, as alluded to earlier, has to do with the human resource management, which essentially