Dr David Owusu Sekyere, an Emergency Health Physician at the University of Ghana, has called for the institution of robust and standardised emergency care systems in all health institutions, to help save more lives.
He said currently such systems were non-existent in majority of healthcare facilities across the country due to the lack of qualified emergency care professionals and infrastructure, leading to poor management of patients who needed emergency care.
"This leads to further complications as these services are handled by untrained and inexperienced frontline healthcare personnel at the Out Patient Department level, with delays that impede effective access to emergency care services," he said.
Dr Owusu Sekyere made the call at the opening of the 6th Biennial Conference of the Ghana Association of Quasi Government Health Institutions (GAQHI) in Accra on Wednesday, which was on the theme: "Emergency Healthcare in Ghana; the Role of Quasi Government Health Institutions."
The Organisation, which is made up of health facilities of government sectors or institutions whose business were anything other than health, included those that are operated by the security services, Education, Defence, Communication, Mining and Energy, Environment, Science and Technology, Finance, Agriculture, Transport and the Arms of Government.
Dr Owusu Sekyere underscored the importance of instituting and enforcing national standards as far as emergency healthcare delivery was concerned, without which access to quality would be greatly compromised.
He commended GAQHI for the sustained support in building both infrastructure, human resource base among others, to improve healthcare delivery in the health sector.
He advised GAQHI to encourage its members to acquire their own ambulances, and collaborate with the National Ambulance Service (NAS), to train their Emergency Medical Teams (EMT), whose services could augment that of the Service's limited fleet of vehicles in cases of national emergencies.
Dr Owusu Sekyere again called for strengthen partnership between the NAS and GAQHI, to activate effective systems including telephone hotlines, on which people could seek expert directions to provide first aid for patients before they got to health facilities.
He insisted that effective emergency care should begin from the community level (Pre-hospital), where lay persons or members of the public must be empowered with basic knowledge and skills to be able to identify emergency situations, know what to do and where to get help.
Dr Emmanuel Ankrah Odame, the Director of Policy and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of Health (MOH), said promoting health for all was key in accelerating Ghana's vision for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which aimed at ensuring quality and timely access to healthcare without financial difficulties.
He acknowledged the tremendous contributions of GAQHI as a key partner of the Ministry, saying, its current focus on emergency healthcare to improve quality and increased access to service delivery was line with the overall health sector objectives.
He said the Ministry was already at the table with GAQHI discussing various concerns and needs, saying, "We must redesign our health emergency systems to ensure quality."
"There is currently a huge dividend in sustaining the country's working force, due to challenges including securing financial clearance for employment, and there is the need for a critical evaluation of the healthcare value chain to ascertain what is needed at each point in time, in order to make the system as seamless as possible," he said.
Dr Odame said the Ministry remained committed to its collaboration with GAQHI, and expected its members to work hard to address the numerous health needs of Ghanaians.
Dr Christian Kofi Amenuveve, the National President of the Ghana Association of Quasi Government Health Institutions, stressed that sustainable UHC was unachievable without ensuring a pragmatic approach to developing an all-inclusive inter-sectoral emergency care system in the country.
He said since emergency care was not limited to the domain of health practitioners alone, GAQHI facilities were strategically positioned to lead the inter-sectoral approach to this key service development.
He, however, said the major drawback to this laudable idea was the lack of Legislative Instrument that sought to standardise health practice across various mother institutions under different administrative regimes, and appealed to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health to lead GAQHI through the process.
He said the Organisation would continue to offer its expertise in emergency care and support the government to scale up projects to systematically address the needs of the country.