67th Annual New Year School and Conference Opens

Hon. Alex Segbefia

The Opening Ceremony of the 67th Annual New Year School and Conference has taken place at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana. The Conference which is on the theme, “Promoting Universal Health for Sustainable Development in Ghana: Is ICT the Game Changer?" is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education (SCDE) under the College of Education, University of Ghana.

The Chairman of the University Council, Justice (Dr.) Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, who chaired the opening ceremony noted that the New Year School is an important national institution aimed at providing the platform to discuss pertinent issues that affect the nation and to make recommendations for national development. He expressed appreciation to the School of Continuing and Distance Education for organizing the event and hoped that participants of the 67th Annual New Year School will fully explore the use of technology to accelerate the work of governance institutions at the local level and in the health sector.

Justice (Dr.) Samuel Kofi Date-Bah

The Minister of Health, Hon. Alex Segbefia, who officially opened the School, explained that Africa and other developing countries can achieve the goal of effective health coverage through a well-developed and sustained health sector. He noted that advances in medical technology have completely enhanced health delivery in the use of equipment such as the electronic blood pressure monitors, rapid diagnosis kits for malaria, CT Scans, as well as monitoring equipment for diabetes among others. He underscored the need for Ghana and countries in Africa to invest massively in healthcare infrastructure and to ensure quality health service so that patients can recover quickly to contribute their quota to national development.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Richard Adanu, Dean of the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, stressed on the need to encourage the application of information technology resources to the various aspects of health care operations. This he noted will ensure that critical information is shared to stakeholders to reduce the financial and time implications of physical and manual processes. He indicated that an effective usage of ICT has the potential to improve Ghana’s health systems, promote universal access to health care and improve health behaviours. The advent of the internet he noted, has facilitated universal knowledge on health problems and treatment through the creation of health care websites, mobile health alerts, medication taking compliance tracking, telemedicine, text and voice SMS among other several innovations.

Prof. Adanu called for inclusive responsibility on the part of government, health and ICT entrepreneurs and the University community to create the right environment for advocacy in health intervention strategies.

Prof. Richard Adanu

In his statement, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, noted that the theme for the Annual New Year School and Conference will create opportunities for the discussion of important issues of national and international relevance. Universal health coverage, he noted, can be effectively harnessed through ICT to deliver effective and affordable health care. He was hopeful that participants will learn more about the use of ICT to enhance the promotion of universal health.

Prof. Ernest Aryeetey

The Provost of the College of Education, Rev. Prof. Cephas Omenyo in his remarks indicated that the School has over the period become a platform for the discussion of important issues of national interest by people from all walks of life, and the launching pad for key policy decisions. The theme he noted is very pertinent, given the critical place of health in a nation’s development. He noted that ICT has the ability to change and modernize healthcare, strengthen primary health delivery, and build foundations for addressing non-communicable diseases. He called the attention of participants to take concrete steps to use ICT to help the nation move closer to universal health coverage.

In a statement, the Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education, Prof. Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi indicated that the use of ICT in the health sector plays a crucial role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (especially MDGs 4 and 5), now the Sustainable Development Goals. He noted that not only is technology useful in distance learning, but it is also significant in the use of mobile health applications for education and awareness, remote data collection, remote monitoring, communication and training for health workers, disease and epidemic outbreak tracking and diagnosis and treatment support, at a relatively low cost.

Prof. Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi

The Managing Director of Airtel Ghana Limited, Madam Lucy J. Quist, in a brief statement, emphasized the Company’s commitment to being a part of the event for the third consecutive year. She noted that the theme for the New Year School is appropriate to promote the transformational power of ICT in the delivery of effective healthcare in Ghana. As the official sponsor of the Annual New Year School and Conference for the past three years, she gave assurance of the company’s dedication to continue to support the New Year School. She highlighted some of Airtel’s corporate social responsibility as providing internet access to laboratories, pharmacies and diagnostic centers in the sharing and transferring of patient data in a secure environment so as to save more lives.

Madam Lucy J. Quist

Other officials present at the Opening Ceremony were the Registrar of the University, Mrs. Mercy Haizel-Ashia, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (ASA), Prof. Samuel Kwame Offei, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (ORID), Prof. John Gyapong, the Provost of the College of Humanities, Prof. Samuel Agyei-Mensah, the Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Prof. Yao Tettey, the Director of Public Affairs, Mrs. Stella A. Amoa, as well as Deans, Directors, Members of the Alumni Council, participants of the New Year School, officials and other members of the University community, students and the general public.

After four intense days of thought-provoking sessions, the 67th Annual New Year School and Conference came to a close with a brief ceremony by the Dean of the School of Continuing and Distance Education, Prof. Yaw Oheneba Sakyi. It is hoped that the recommendations made at this year’s School would impact upon policy formulation and development as previous schools have done.