Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, has applauded the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and its Strategic Alliance (StA) partners for the successes achieved through the “Prevention is Better than Cure” (PBC) project.
He said the Project had succeeded in creating greater health awareness among a wider section of the citizenry, and awakened the wellness consciousness of especially employers and employees of the various implementing institutions, and residents of selected project communities, to insist on preventive rather than curative healthcare.
The Project, which was launched in April 2015, seeks to shift the focus of public and health institutions from the existing curative-oriented system, to an integrated system which aimed at providing preventive measures and services.
Mr Agyemang-Manu, who was addressing participants on the occasion of the close-out ceremony of the “Prevention is Better than Cure,” in Accra on Tuesday, said the Project remained very relevant, as it presented a great opportunity to the Ministry of Health’s quest to align to the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3).
The SDG target 3.4 under its Goal 3, he explained, seeks to reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and wellbeing by 2030.
“It is sad that after running successfully for a period of three years, the Project has to be close-out to allow for its assessment, impact and sustainability”, however it had achieved its objective of integrating prevention and health promoting measures in the service packages of both public and private service providers including health insurance providers in Ghana, he said.
The GIZ and the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development together with its StA partners had developed and implemented diverse programmes to educate and inform the public on the benefits of regular health checks.
Some of the basic education given was about infection prevention and control, clinical screening, including body mass Index, blood pressure, assessment of cardiovascular risk, education on tobacco and alcohol and promotion of physical activity and regular exercising.
Mr Agyeman-Manu noted that sustainability after the project had closed-up, would require Ghana to enact some Legislative Instrument to enforce the PBC in order to consolidate the gains, and to replicate the lessons learnt into the health systems for better outcomes for Ghanaians and all people living in the country.
He said most people in spite of the education, information and services being offered by service providers, could not be bothered, therefore like it was being done in other developed countries, preventive health should not be left an option for the citizenry, but must be made compulsory to ensure that investments made were not wasted.
Mr Alan Walsh, the Country Director of GIZ, said the PBC concept was crucial to Ghana because the lack of access to preventive health measures was not only disadvantageous for the livelihood of vulnerable people, but had negative effects on the national health system and economy as a whole.
The reality, he said was that African health systems currently focus on curative rather than preventive measures, therefore under such circumstances, access to preventive measures was often ad-hoc and not sustained, he said.
He said with the Health Ministries striving to control the double burden of diseases through improvements of the health service financing and delivery, an integration of comprehensive preventive measures into health systems was required.
The GIZ, he said sees the Project to be in line with the government’s ‘Beyond Aid’ agenda, where the total wellness of the citizenry would lead to a reduction in the health budget, and therefore serve as a sustainable policy for national development.
Mr Walsh said the programme targeted companies that invested in developing and emerging countries and were seeking ways to shape their corporate commitment in the long time with financial and professional support.
He encouraged all public and private institutions across the country to make PBC a standard procedure for their staff, and hoped that it would also be integrated fully into the healthcare delivery system.
He thanked all the StA partners made up of the Golden Star Resources limited, Ghana Community Network Systems Limited, Sysmex, Nationwide Mutual Healthcare, Claron Health International, Glico Healthcare and the Ghana Association of Quasi Health Institution (GAQHI), their commitment towards the objectives of the Project.
Dr Felicia Owusu Antwi, the National Programme Officer for Tuberculosis and Malaria, WHO, called for the scale-up of the programme drawing on the lessons and best practices, and affirmed her outfit’s commitment to GIZ’s future projects.