Communique of the 67th annual new year school and conference



The 67th Annual New Year School and Conference will be remembered as a truly exceptional event because of its focus on Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Health.  It was organized by the School of Continuing and Distance Education under the College of Education from Sunday, 10th January to Friday, 15th January, 2016.

The theme for the School and Conference was “Promoting Universal Health for Sustainable Development in Ghana: Is I.C.T the Game Changer?” While it is widely acknowledged that ICT is indeed a game changer and plays a critical role in ensuring quality and universal health care, consensus around the table is that its deployment and universal adoption will not be automatic but will require concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the health sector in Ghana. 

It is in light of this that the School sees this year’s theme as very relevant and timely in achieving the broad national agenda on health and well-being as well as three (3) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The importance of I.C.T in health care delivery formed the building block of all the activities of the New Year School and Conference, which is reflected in the following sub themes that participants have thoroughly discussed over the last four days:

·         Evaluating Ghana’s e-Health Policy;

·         Creating an enabling environment for I.C.T and health: using ICT to close health gaps;

·         Data Collection for Health: The role of I.C.T;

·         Leveraging I.C.T to improve reproductive health-maternal and adolescent health, I.C.T and men’s health;

·         Capacity enhancement for Health care professionals: The role of I.C.T and

·         Sustainable health care financing

Based on the discussion of the school, the following recommendations were made:

·         There should be the development of an evaluation assessment tool by stakeholders to identify the ICT platforms in health which have been more successful, less successful or defunct and find out why. The evaluation should involve users of the e-Health platform and the communities rolling out the policy. In communities where e-Health has been rolled out, best practices and success stories of communities should be captured and adapted to suit the rest of the country.

·         The Ministry of Health should intensify coordination and collaborate with all stakeholders like the Ministry of Communications (MoC), National Communications Authority (NCA), National Information Technology Agency (NITA) and Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT to provide harmonized short codes on diverse health related issues and regular updates at a minimal cost for the public.


·         The Ghana Health Service should create an electronic data bank for professional health service workers, where data on patients, pharmaceuticals, and other health information may be accessed across the country. Thus, the nation should have a centralized medical records system. This should however be monitored and controlled. ICT should make it possible for all health professionals within the hospital environment to have access to patients’ records and histories.

     On the existing e- Health policy, the School recommended that:

·         The national e-Health policy should be evaluated and reviewed periodically to make it relevant and practicable to meet the needs of the people.


·         The Ministry of Health should take immediate steps to disseminate the e-Health policy and content communicated in languages that all stakeholders in the health sector would understand and appreciate.


·         The sensitization and the involvement of user departments should be streamlined leading to the creation of an enabling environment for e-Health policy to thrive.

Realizing that creating an enabling environment for health care in Ghana through the use of ICT could close health gaps between the urban and rural areas, the school recommends that:

The government should increase investment in health-related ICT infrastructure in all      health facilities across the country.

·         There should be Public-Private Partnerships to invest in other sources of energy such as  solar, wind power etc. so that rural areas can have access to energy to power their ICT gadgets especially mobile phones which are now the basic ICT device.

·         There is the need for an appropriate regulatory framework that does not only create incentive structures for wider uptake, but also supports and encourages the private sector and other stakeholders to invest in health related ICT infrastructure across the country.

·         The government through the Ministry of Communications (MoC), the National Communication Authority (NCA), the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication and the National Information and Technology Agency (NITA) should embark on serious mass education especially in the most ICT knowledge deprived areas on the relevance of ICT as a game changer in universal health.




Recognizing the role of ICT in data collection for health, the School recommends that

·         There is the need to develop a regulatory framework for health data and information management using ICT within the health sector.


·         Manual or paper record keeping in hospitals should be completely phased out. All efforts should be made to deploy ICT in collecting and managing health data at the district and local levels.


·         Data interconnectivity should be created to ensure effective and efficient data collection, management, and information sharing.


·         Institutions responsible should put in place mechanisms and measures to ensure the timely updating of existing data within the health sector.


·         Appropriate laws should be enacted to protect sensitive data about individuals’ health records. Software and other mechanisms should be put in place to protect health data against hacking and other forms of abuse.


Considering the important role of ICT in improving maternal health, adolescent reproductive health and the health of men, the School recommends:

·         Ghana Health Service should put in place measures to increase accessibility of reproductive health information through the various social media platforms for adolescents, women and men in languages they speak and understand.

·         Establish community based e-Health centers for health workers and the general public to facilitate interaction and public health education among the people.



To ensure sustainable health care financing, the school recommends

·         A more comprehensive review of the NHIS and its financing structure should be carried out and restructured to ensure it is financially sustainable. More specifically:


·         Corporate organizations should be encouraged to direct their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities towards improving health care. Such companies should be encouraged with attractive tax incentives or rebates.

·         The NHIS should cater for mainly primary health care while the secondary and tertiary health care can be catered for by private health insurance schemes.

·         The current deployment of ICT and Biometric Registration systems should be rapidly implemented across the country to improve efficiency and reduce fraud.  

·         Restructure the exemption system. The current status of indigents, persons with mental disorders and categories of disabled should be maintained. However the structure of premium paid by other categories should be revisited.

·         Drawing from the perspective of diversifying financing sources, contributions from the informal sector has proven to be a herculean task. The Government of Ghana should increase taxes on consumers of for instance cigarette and alcohol and such products, and direct such funds towards health.


To realize the full benefit of ICT in developing an efficient human resource base in the health sector the School recommends that

·         As a first step, ICT training should be a basic and compulsory course component for the training of all health professionals and other health service workers.

·         All Teaching Hospitals and Health-related training institutions should be equipped with internet connectivity, and ICT infrastructure such as computer laboratories, teleconferencing facilities to ensure a structured delivery of lectures by Consultants, Researchers, and health care professional groups at a specific time (monthly, quarterly, half yearly) to help disseminate new trends in health care provision and supervised by district Assemblies.

·         Government should increase the budget for training of health professionals and also support the establishment of e-learning platforms to widen access to training of health professionals across the length and breadth of the country.

·         There should be frequent educational programs, workshops, and other sensitization programs particularly at the grassroots or community levels to ensure that people buy into the e-health concept. Moreover, we should build capacity especially at the grassroots/community level; and ICT provisions should be made at the community levels to facilitate easy data gathering on health. As part of this measure, people should be trained to take up advocacy roles to spread the message about e-health.


It is the expectation of all that the recommendations made by the School and Conference will be adopted by the Government of Ghana and other stakeholders in order to make ICT a real game changer in promoting universal health.