The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has downgraded nine of 10 health facilities in the Nadowli/Kaleo district of the Upper West Region to CHPS compounds due to the lack of physician assistants in those centres.
The health centres cannot offer certain critical care including the prescription of antibiotics to patients due to the lack of physician assistants.
According to the Nadowli/Kaleo District Health Director, Fibi Balagmieteme, majority of the residents cannot access quality healthcare.
Speaking to Class News, she appealed to the authorities to post physician assistants to handle the health centres.
Explaining why the health centres have been downgraded, Fibi Balagmieteme, said: “The reason is that the National Health Insurance Authority has it that you must have a physician assistant in every health centre because they have the capacity to be able to provide certain services and, as we speak, it is only one health centre that actually has a physician assistant and, so, they have not been downgraded. The others [health centres] are being manned by either midwives or registered general nurses but we want the right calibre of staff to be there, which is physician assistants and that is the reason for the downgrading.
“We have eight sub-districts and 10 health centres. The 10 health centres include the private ones, which is the Catholic Health Association of Ghana facilities, and out of the 10, only one can boast of a physician assistant. So, the rest of the health centres have been downgraded. They have been downgraded from health centres to CHPS [compounds] with midwives.
“So, these facilities cannot prescribe antibiotics and that is affecting geographical access because if we say we are increasing access, then people must be able to walk in and have at least some wide range of services but this has been limited. Clients have to travel long distances to Nadowli hospital to be able to access services, but if we had physician assistants they can come and manage these health centres and access can be improved.”