Dr Andrews Ayim, a Deputy Director at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has stated that the Service's Networks of Practice (NOP) initiative will help strengthen the country's Primary Healthcare system
It will reinforce the sector's commitment to identify innovative approaches to increase access to quality essential health care.
He explained that the NoP was one of Ghana's strategies to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the primary care levelwith a focus on improving quality health services, partnership, and innovation.
He said the NoP involved the creation of a network of health facilities within a defined geographical area, to provide a comprehensive health service, allowing a fluid system of managing and sharing resources without significant adjustment to the existing organisational structures.
Dr Ayim, who oversees the Policy PlanningMonitoring and Evaluation Division of the GHS, was speaking at a stakeholder's orientation engagement forum on NoP implementation guidelines held in Wa..
Municipal and District Health Directors and health-related Civil Society Organisations attended the day's forum to digest and appreciate the conceptunderstand their respective roles and responsibilities and build the needed synergies for successful implementation in the region.
He said the guidelines had been developed through broad-based consultations and consensus building with various stakeholders of the Ministry of Health and its development partners, to provide the essential conceptsdefinitionsprocedures, and processes for the implementation of NoP.
Dr Ayim said Ghana's primary healthcare strategy remained the bedrock of the country's approach to achieving universal healthcare with a focus on improving health outcomes.
He announced that the strategy had yielded significant improvements in key health indicators including healthcare utilisation, maternal Health, access to immunisation services and child health.
However, some barriers to service delivery at the sub-national level, such as poor referral systems, inefficient provider-payment mechanisms, and inadequate capacity to deliver the basic package of primary health care service, remained as key operational challenges that needed to be addressed.
The Deputy Director said evidence had shown that the NoP initiative could significantly improve the delivery of primary health care services by reducing fragmentation in coordinating referrals and servicesensuring accessible primary health care for diverse communities, and leveraging limited funds and human resources to maximise performance at all levels of the health system.
"The initiative would be tailored to existing health structures where providers work in concert to deliver health services to the populace within a geographical area.
"This involves planning to address service gaps, sharing of resources and performance management to provide comprehensive patient-centred networks that deliver equitably distributed high-quality continuous care for common health conditions" he said.
Dr Ayim said it was envisaged that the guidelines would serve as the reference material and management guide for all health sector stakeholders and provide a step-by-step process for the operationalisation of NoP in Ghana.
He called on all health managersstaff and relevant stakeholders within the GHS to support the implementation of the NoP initiative, to foster better collaboration and strengthen the health system as a whole.
Dr Damien Punguyirethe Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, said the NoP had been piloted in the Sissala East Municipality and Nadowli-Kaleo District, where some health facilities had been retooledcapacity of staff built, and networks establishedamong others.
He said the results so far had provided positive indications of the impact of the policy on strengthening of the sub-districts health systems.
Mr Adams Walid, an Assistant Director at the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council, noted that the policy was a visionary onewhich holds great promise for the health landscape.
He emphasised the importance of the initiative, not just as a policy document but as a practical roadmap towards better health for communities.