The 67th annual New Year School and Conference opened yesterday in Accra on the theme, “Promoting universal health for sustainable development in Ghana: Is ICT the game changer”?
The five-day programme would discuss topical issues on Information and Communication Technology including evaluating Ghana’s health policy, creating an enabling environment for ICT and health, data collection for the health sector, the role of ICT, leveraging ICT to improve reproductive health and sustainable health care financing.
The participants would also discuss capacity enhancement for healthcare professionals: the role of ICT, and issue a communiqué after their deliberations.
The conference, which was sponsored by Airtel Ghana, a telecommunication company, attracted participants from the ICT sector, health providers, academia, and traditional authorities, among others.
Opening the school, the Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, called on the participants to deliberate on how the nation could exploit ICT to improve access to healthcare delivery.
He stressed the need for the country to make good use of ICT to improve access to healthcare, especially in rural communities.
The minister said ICT impacted on all spheres of development and indicated that healthcare delivery would improve drastically if ICT could be fully exploited.
He said although the country closely missed out on its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets on health, some significant strides were achieved in the sector.
“The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) even places tighter targets for us to achieve and we will need the effort of everyone to be able to achieve these targets,” he said.
Mr. Segbefia said the government was committed to improving healthcare delivery and indicated that the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) policy was being implemented to improve access to healthcare in the rural communities.
The Dean of School of Public Health, Professor Richard Adanu, said the country’s huge ICT potential could be effectively harnessed if the universities research into the immediate needs of the health sector, using ICT.
“Our graduates are ready to deliver, what is left is the opportunity to make giant strides to create evidence based scenarios to enable them deliver else the invents would be a waste,” he said.
He urged government to improve upon ICT facilities and support private sector participation in the sector.
Prof Adanu tasked the Ministry of Health to identify all potential clients and offer them effective training to enable them deliver at the grassroots.
The Managing Director of Airtel Ghana, Madam Lucy Quist, noted that technology had permeated almost all aspects of life, except the health sector, and urged the participants to transform the discussion into activities for development.
She said Airtel Ghana had provided dedicated internet services to health centres and Wide Area Network (WAN) solutions, to link health centres, laboratories, pharmacies and diagnostic facilities, to share and transfer data.
Madam Quist said, “hospitals can monitor an ambulance, its location, interval activity and direct communication between employees on the road and in the centres seamlessly on our 3.75G network in its quest to save a life”.
By Lawrence Akpalu &