FREE PRIMARY HEALTH CARE AT LAST! DR OMANE BOAMAH WRITES

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Primary Health Care, proposed by the World Health Organisation 42 years ago, advances the frontiers of social justice – inclusivity. It will serve as a fitting linchpin for the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, Health for All.

All Ghanaians deserve quality health care. This is why I agree with the WHO’s Primary Health Care Declaration that, “The attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important worldwide social goal whose realisation requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to health”. (WHO, 1978).

Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, Medical Doctor, Health Policy, Planning and Financing Analyst & Former Minister for Communications

Congratulations once again, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang! As President John Dramani Mahama emphasised, your nomination as his Running Mate for the December Presidential and Parliamentary elections is “over and above affirmative action.”


The nomination is a reflection of your undoubted competence, your innovative approaches to public policies, your admirable integrity as well as gender equality.

It is also a bold statement of intent that gender should never be an obstacle in the way of leadership.


Professor Opoku-Agyemang, in your acceptance speech, you proved President Mahama right for nominating you to the admiration of the millions who watched you live. You did so, not only with your eloquence but also with the rich, arresting content of your speech – which resonates with all generations and transcends gender barriers.


Many young girls and boys, women and men, are already totally inspired by the leadership they have seen in you and acknowledge your new role as a refreshing departure from the norm.  Ayekoo!


Dear reader, the courage and incredible vision of John Mahama cannot be lost on us and as Prof. Opoku-Agyemang acknowledged, “President Mahama, you have respected women… the women of Ghana will not forget.”


Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang further stated, “In today’s turbulent political and economic climate, there are four crucial factors to consider in tackling issues relating to youth and gender.


First, we must be mindful of the fact that 60% of our population will be under the age of 30 in a few years. That is why it is so critical that we systematically reform all our systems to effectively address the aspirations of our youth and country.


Second, we need meaningful, quality and comprehensive education that goes beyond access and responds to the future we can actualize.


Third, we must leverage on vocational and technical training to equip many into meaningful and fulfilling work. 


Fourth, we must provide opportunities that transcend political patronage, ‘connection’ and the practice of whom- you- know. Equal and fair opportunities based on merit are an imperative for sustainable economic growth. The time for that shift is now.


These are certainly reassuring words, which take into consideration Ghana’s quest for sustainable development at a time when maladministration and manifest incompetence combined with incoherent and patronising responses to COVID-19 have conspired to disillusion many a Ghanaian, particularly the youth.


The quest for sustainable development must be a movement, lest we fail to meet the 17 goals set by the United Nations to be attained by the year, 2030. Another target aptly crafted and yawning for attention and decisive action is the Africa Union’s blueprint, “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”


None of these noble aspirations can be successful without providing fair opportunities for all – the core of social justice. Notably, social justice was the common thread in the speeches of both Prof. Naana Jane and President John Mahama.


I was glad that, social justice – providing opportunities for all – is once again taking centre stage in our national discourse.


Free Primary Health Care


As a medical doctor and a health policy planning and financing analyst, I am encouraged that President Mahama seeks to implement Free Primary Health Care for all Ghanaians, including the young and the elderly because there are still many Ghanaians who cannot afford the cost of basic health care.


Primary Health Care, proposed by the World Health Organisation 42 years ago, advances the frontiers of social justice – inclusivity. It will serve as a fitting linchpin for the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, Health for All.


All Ghanaians deserve quality health care. This is why I agree with the WHO’s Primary Health Care Declaration that, “The attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important worldwide social goal whose realisation requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to health”. (WHO, 1978).


Fortunately, the world led by the United Nations is back to where we were in 1978 with Primary Health Care as declared in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan. This is because the SDGs is a relevant drift away from the vertical nature of the Millennium Development Goals. SDG 3 adopts a health system and multi-sectoral approach and guarantees sustainable development.


Hence, as a health practitioner, you can understand my joy when President Mahama announced Free Primary Health Care for all Ghanaians as a significant policy direction for his incoming administration.