ARHR Punches Holes In 2018 Budget

The Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) has punched holes in the 2018 budget and financial statement read by the Finance Minister in Parliament.

ARHR, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that seeks to ensure every Ghanaian; rich or poor, young or elderly, female or male, has access to the best reproductive health care, said government failed to prioritise very essential aspects in the Budget as far as the health sector is concerned.

Speaking at a media encounter, Tuesday, Nii Ankonu Annorbah-Sarpei, Programmes manager of ARHR described as 'disheartening' the fact that the budget "did not mention any attempt to complete or construct a single CHPS compound" even though they are the first point of call for many Ghanaians.

He further indicated that "...the budget statement was silent on the update of the work on the Ghana Health Service staffing norms as outlined in the 2017 budget and whether employments were informed by the staff mix gap”. Apart from that, “no clear direction or statement on how government will address the inequitable distribution of existing health workers across the country" was indicated.

"...despite government’s commitment to employ more health personnel, there seem to be no clear road map to ensure equitable distribution of human resource for health" he added.

Nana Aisha Mohammed, Programme Manager-Health Financing, ARHR, said even though it is laudable that government has allocated GHC 311,988,400 for the payment of nurse trainee allowance, government should restructure the allowance scheme such that nurses who choose to offer ‘difficult’ courses like Midwifery and others will be the ones to benefit. According to her, most of the trainee nurses opt for community nursing, creating a deficit in other areas.

"The allowance should be reserved for trainees willing to undertake courses in areas such as midwifery, paediatric nursing since the country requires more skilled workers in this sector..."

ARHR however commended government for the removal of 17.5% VAT on selected pharmaceutical products and hoped that it "will influence the pricing of medicines and cost of purchase of medicines by the NHIS".

They have also urged government to "increase its commitment to improve maternal, child and neonatal health indicators if it is keen to achieve its health commitments under SDGs 3". 

Below is the health segment captured in the 2018 Budget


Management and Administration

165. Government paid GH¢600 million out of the total government indebtedness to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and this has improved funding and smooth running of hospitals. In line with government’s commitment to revive the NHIS, the Ministry setup technical teams to review the recommendations of the NHIS Review report.

166. In the area of infrastructure, construction of classroom blocks for Health training institutions at Sampa, Asankragua, Pantang and Korle-Bu Critical Care and Peri-operative Unit was completed in 2017.

167. The following projects are also at various stages of completion

* Four District Hospitals namely Kumawu, Fomena, Abetifi and Takoradi European Hospital,

* Tamale Teaching Hospital Phase 2;

* Two Regional and six District Hospitals at Wa, Sewua, Salaga, Konongo, Tepa, Nsawkaw, Atomic and TwifoPraso;

* 10 Polyclinics at Bisease, GomoaDawurampong, BinpongEgya, EkumfiNakwa, EtsiiSunkwa, Biriwa, Akunfude, JamraMankrong and Potsin; all in the Central Region;

* Five Polyclinics at Oduman, Sege, Bortianor, Ashaiman and Adenta; in the Greater Accra Region.

Health Service Delivery

168. The number of institutional maternal deaths per 100,000 live births reduced from 167.5 in June 2016 to 149.7 in June 2017. However, institutional infant mortality per 1000 live births increased from 5.8 to 7.5.

169. Mr. Speaker, sector challenges affected the purchase of vaccines, resulting in lower than targeted immunization coverage in the first half of 2017.

170. In 2018, the Ministry will continue to address the vaccines challenges that the country has faced over the last eight years and develop a clear sustainability plan for vaccines and antiretroviral medicines in anticipation of our exit from GAVI.

171. Mr. Speaker, the focus of health sector activities in 2018 will be directed at reducing morbidity and mortality (especially maternal and neonatal), and improving the quality of life. This will be achieved by increasing access to quality health services and improving efficiency in the governance and management of the health delivery system.

172. In 2018, government will explore the possibility of weaning selected health agencies off Government subvention. In addition, the Ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders will develop a medical tourism policy.