An Open Forum Panel Discussion on the topic Multi-sectoral Action for National Development: The role of other sectors and the community in health systems development has taken place at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Legon, Accra.


The Forum, the second in a series, was organized by the Centre for Health Systems and Policy Research (CHESPOR) ― a multi-disciplinary Centre with the mandate to undertake research, training, advocacy, community and multi-sectoral engagements.


Members of the Panel were Dr Gina Teddy, Director, CHESPOR, Dr Gloria Ansah, University of Ghana Health Services, Dr George Rockson, Zoomlion Ghana Ltd., Faustina Halimatu Braimah, Ghana Education Service and Dr  Koma Jehu Appiah, Country Director, Ipas, a global nongovernmental organization dedicated to ending preventable deaths and disabilities from unsafe abortion.


Addressing participants at the opening of the Forum, Dr Gina Teddy, Director, CHESPORE, noted that factors influencing health outcomes were complex and extended beyond the provision of health care services and community health systems while many also fell outside the authority of the Ministry of Health.


Dr Teddy noted further that the health sector reflected the essential contribution of good health to economic prosperity in the current National Health Policy.


For these reasons, Dr Teddy said, accountability for the progressive realization of the right to health should be shared across sectors, communities and governments as a whole while health systems should adopt collaborative action across sectors in developing the communities and the nation.


She stressed the need for a strong community-level health system to increase health care and improve health outcomes as well as a strong health sector dialogue, with the active participation of all stakeholders across the sector, development partners, civil society and the institutionalization of mechanisms for participation and co-ordination among actors to improve health service delivery.


Dr Teddy said in planning community health programmes, the involvement of all stakeholders was an essential requirement, adding that structures required for community-based services and support systems needed for health development for community structures could only be strengthened through multi-sectoral action.


“By strengthening community health systems, the Ministry of Health, Non-Governmental Organizations and donors might be better positioned to implement more effective and streamlined approaches to community-level service delivery,” she explained.


She added that strengthening community health systems was key to the performance of Primary Health Care and community development.


She noted that because the processes and structures used to formalize intersectoral and intergovernmental collaboration would vary from one community to the other, and in order to reduce resistance from other sectors and ministries whose goals might conflict with community and public health, it was necessary to secure a high-level political commitment.


Dr Teddy underscored the importance of partnership across boundaries, adding that the commitment, active participation and goodwill of all partners could be strengthened through the formalization of the partnership in a declaration, Memorandum of Understanding or other framework document clearly stating shared goals and the key responsibilities of each partner.


Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)