PRINCE CLINTON APPAU: The dying primary health care in Ghana

Primary Health Care seeks to provide adequate supply of safe water and sanitation. But what do we see now?, asks iGhanaian Columnist, Prince Clinton Appau

Primary Health Care (P.H.C) is an essential health care based on scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology that is universally accessible to all individuals and families in the community through their full participation and at a cost that the country and community can afford.

Primary Health Care was implemented basically to bridge the gap between the inequality in health care availability between developed and developing countries and among people in the developing countries. In other words to make it possible for each and every one to have equal access to health care without discrimination.

The aim of PHC was to bring health care to the doorstep of citizens.

The elements of primary health care includes: health education about prevailing health conditions and how to avoid or treat them, immunization programs against major infectious diseases, improve maternal and child health care including family planning, provide essential drug arrangement, provide nutritional food supplement and adequate supply of safe and basic nutrition, help in the treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases and lastly to provide safe water and sanitation.

Ghana Satisfaction With Healthcare and Health Information Statistics Chart
Ghana Satisfaction With Healthcare and Health Information Statistics Chart

In view of the elements of PHC it reveals that it seeks to create an environment where people can live happily without the fear or even thought of diseases. But this beautiful idea of PHC has been destroyed greatly by political influences and selfish interest of some people. We are in a country where health is not a priority to the government. This has led to the increase in everything relating to death. For instance, maternal mortality, infant mortality, crude death rate and other death statistics are at its peak.

These are all due to the negligence of PHC. These high increases in death statistics can greatly be minimized if the government pays attention to primary health care and makes a full time investment in it. We live in a country where it is not possible for a year to pass by without an outbreak of cholera which kills a great number of people. But cholera is 98% preventable if public education concerning its occurrence is well publicized.

Primary Health Care seeks to provide adequate supply of safe water and sanitation. But what do we see now? There are villages in this country that do not have access to proper drinking water and are prone to water borne diseases. But it wouldn’t cost the government that much to provide these villages with bore holes and other quality source of water supply. This will help get rid of diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and others.

We are in a country where sanitation programs are organized and gutters are been distilled onto road sides and it will take another rain fall to clear the waste back into the gutter. So we are at mercy of malaria. Malaria which is highly preventable is among one of the diseases with higher prevalence in Ghana. The less I talk about the number people it kills every year the better. If the government will realize the importance of primary health care and invest in it, it will be possible for malaria to be totally eradicated from our country.

Again, Primary Health Care seeks to improve maternal and child health care. But what we see is increased maternal and infant mortality in Ghana.

As at October 29th 2017, maternal mortality was as high as 319 per 100000 live births and neonatal mortality was 29 per 1000 live births according to the health minister. We are in country where women in labor deliver on the floor and some are not even given weighing cards due to shortage of it. Some health facilities even lack oxygen and people die just because the facility lacks oxygen to resuscitate a patient. This is pathetic and actually heartbreaking.

Instead of the government paying attention to some of these things and build health facilities in the rural areas, the government rather builds expensive health centers in the city where they are even in abundance. These health facilities are not even affordable to most people thus promoting the inequality to health access between the rich and the poor.

Furthermore PHC was developed such that health care will be brought to the people at where they live to make it easier to access healthcare. But what we see in most of the rural areas is that people have to travel long distance before they can have access to proper healthcare. Due to the stress one will pass through to get access to health, him or her resort to home remedies which may aggravate their sickness and may even lead to their death. Many pregnant women have met their untimely death as a result of the distances between their homes and the health facilities.

In order for Ghana to maintain a sound Primary Health Care, the cost of health care should be within the means and resources of the individual and the country. In that healthcare will not be limited to the rich only. Also health care should be acceptable to the people such that there should be a satisfactory communication between health care providers and the patients, whether the patients trust this care, and whether the patients believe in the confidentiality and privacy of shared information with the providers.

Again health care should be available at all levels such that medical care can obtain by people whenever they need it. On top of it, there should be completeness in the health care system such that there will be adequate attention to all aspects of medical problems, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, follow up measures and rehabilitation.

In a nut shell, the government should realize that a healthy nation is much better than a wealthy nation therefore conscious effort should be made by the government to strengthen Primary Health Care to enhance smooth and comfort living of the citizens. Also we the citizens of Ghana should also know that our health is in our hands and we are the best caretakers of ourselves hence we must change our lukewarm attitudes towards getting health care.


This post was edited by iGhanaian Editors for correctness, however, all views expressed herein remain that of the author, Prince Clinton Appau and solely his. You can contact the author via princeclintonappau@gmail.com

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