PERHAPS, a group of core healthcare professionals in the country that appear not to be heard often are Physician Assistants, formerly known as Medical Assistants. They are among the frontline health professionals and they play important roles in the health delivery system the country.

They were created in the mid-1960s to augment the shortage of doctors in the country and are licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of the medical doctor. They provide basic healthcare in health institutions, and often when doctors are not available they are next to be called “doctors.”

In most underserved and disadvantaged  parts of the country where there is no presence of medical doctors , the  physician assistants hold the fort and in some cases are act as district directors of health services, providing  administrative support  for healthcare delivery.

The Kintampo College of Health and Well-Being, formerly known as Medical Assistants receive applicants, train and license them to practice as such, in health institutions. With time, their influence has grown and more medical institutions in both the private and public sectors have been accredited to train them.

These career professionals have been in the news lately complaining about their conditions of service and as well as career development programme to build their capacities to continue to render quality healthcare service for the growing population.

The truth is that the health sector has some challenges in terms of logistics and both financial and human resources is being done to address these challenges.

The Ghanaian Times is unaware of the magnitude of challenges facing the physician assistants, as core healthcare professionals, but we do believe that they have genuine concerns that need the attention of the government.

We believe that in addressing their concerns we could avert any disruption of the healthcare delivery system. The health sector is coming out of the bad press it received due to the “no bed syndrome,” and would be the last to be hit by withdrawal of services by healthcare professionals.

No doubt, the health sector has made steady progress over the years leading to improvement in life expectancy which stands at 60.5 years for males and 62.5 years for females. Maternal mortality has also reduced from over 800 deaths per 100,000 live births to about 319 per 100,000 live births. Infant mortality ratio has also improved in the country.

In spite of these successes there are challenges that need to be addressed including “huge imbalances in geographical access to quality healthcare; inadequate and inequitable distribution of critical staff, increased cost of healthcare delivery, and poor quality of healthcare services” as noted in the Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies 2017-2024.

Malaria, Pneumonia, Asphyxia, HIV/AIDS, Anaemia, Hypertension, Cerebrovascular Accident, Diabetes, Septicemia and Gastroenteritis continue to take a heavy toll on the population, as the major 10 causes of death across all ages.

It is, therefore, critical for the health sector to be strengthened with more and well motivated core healthcare professionals equipped with logistics, to improve healthcare delivery across all geographical locations toward achieving universal health care delivery.

A lot of progress was made under the erstwhile Millennium Development Goals, but notably missed out on some key goals; particularly the Maternal and Child mortalities.

With the successor Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030), Ghana is obliged to improve on its health outcomes, including ensuring good health and well-being under Goal three.

We appeal to the authorities to give attention to the concerns of the physician assistants, so that they would be motivated enough to continue to render services toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.



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