Transforming the healthcare sector is about equity not equality, the immediate past Chief Executive Officer of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Gilbert Buckle, has said.
He noted that the distribution of health resources amongst medical facilities should purely be based on equity. “Transforming the health sector is about equity. Those who need more health care services should have access (to them). Health services is not about equality”, Dr. Buckle said, while addressing a public lecture at the SMS Auditorium. The lecture was on theme “Transforming the Health system for Improved Health Outcome: What and How ?”. Dr. Buckle noted that “transforming the health system is about a series of incremental changes, intentional changes, to make sure that anybody has the highest possible quality health care. Where quality is not defined by the beauty of the building or the latest of the technological equipment…” He added that the transformation of the healthcare sector would ultimately achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), where people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need while these services do not expose the user to financial hardship. According to him, a couple of years ago, there was a national campaign to eradicate buruli ulcer in some districts in the Eastern region. As the District Director of Health, he requested the Regional health authorities to channel the funds earmarked to eradicate the buruli ulcer to the other districts which were severely affected by the disease because his district and other three adjoining communities had not recorded the condition. However, he said, to his utter dismay, the Regional Director of Health Services told him bluntly that it was a national campaign against the condition and the resources needed to be shared equally amongst districts. The former CEO of Korlebu Teaching Hospital mentioned improved health outcomes and equity responsiveness, financial risk protection and efficiency as the four main goals expected from the health sector. He explained that functional challenges where health professional compete for roles in the healthcare sector was hampering the health transformation agenda, citing the case of medical assistants and physicians. He pointed out poor attitudes and behaviours of health officials towards their patients as another setback to the transformation of the health sector. Consequently, he called for the introduction of non-medical subjects such as Social Sciences, health seeking behaviour, basic economics, among others, to help change this negative trend in the healthcare delivery. He noted that the provision of healthcare and medicine was more felt in the hospitality industry than in pure healthcare. “The good attributes of healthcare and medicine are probably are now felt in the hospitality industry than in the pure healthcare. It is about the nice ward, clean bed, excuse me, thank you, sorry, may I help you, thank you for coming to us, how may I be of service to you are all missing,” he added. Dr. Buckle admitted that the execution of transformation was not easy to achieve because it required fundamentally far reaching changes in thoughts, mindsets and change in attitudes. He added that transforming the healthcare system called for humility amongst healthcare professionals in the discharge of their duties, stressing that “Transformation is about the people who should drive the change.” The Chairman for the lecture, who is also the Dean of the School of Medical Sciences, Prof. Francis Offei, thanked the speaker for the insight and called for the transformation of health facilities into hospitality service area and massive improvement of hospitals in the country to enhance quality healthcare delivery.