|Healthcare delivery has often been seen as a duty for the people in white and green dresses, and sometimes the blown khaki ladies who are responsible for inflicting pain to innocent children in the name of immunisation. One important area that is always initially neglected but later becomes the vessel for successful health outcome is social network. The role of various social institutions and recently social media has revolutionalised health service delivery in Ghana.
Communities in whatever form survive on social network especially in sub-Saharan Africa as it defines our worldview. The set-up of each community makes it interdependent on the individual social institutions and groupings which include ethnic, within which is contained clan, afinal, and consanguinal relationships, then the food cultivated, the market and economic activities, the religious beliefs and practices, information dissemination just to mention a few. In a study to establish role of divination in health seeking practices, Azongo states that the people of Talensi, and Nabdam factor in social network manifested in supernatural beliefs and practices in their daily lives which is a key determinant of health and therapy. Techtarget; says Social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one's business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals.
Healthcare practitioners need to begin to identify the usefulness of social networking in care delivery and health intervention. In dealing with health care programmes, social networking is pivotal in achieving community acceptability, adoptability, and adaptability. In Ghana, the Joint Leaning Network (JLN) through Results for Development has begun a system of Internet Technology networking known as Connecting Health Information Systems for Better Health. This system interns to link and facilitate universal health coverage (UHC) and provides Ministry decision makers and health system planners with an overview of how information and communication technology may be employed to simultaneously support care delivery work flows, provider payment work flows, and the generation of health systems management metrics and indicators, (JLN, 2014).
Public Health practitioners need to develop networks to ensure good practices and achievement of goals and objectives set. Youth groups, chiefs and traditional leaders, women’s groups, religious organizations are all networkable opportunities. Recently in Ghana, the ministry of Local Government and Rural Development networked with traditional rulers, and religious groups and association to embark on sanitation activities to keep communities clean as part of efforts to halt cholera outbreak in the country. We need networks to ensure success in health programmes such as immunization, family planning, nutrition, health education and promotion. For example, identifying the various types of foods cultivated and the eating habits of the people helps in developing health promotion activities on nutrition.
The National Health insurance scheme has teamed up with local social institutions to facilitate membership drive, especially in the identification of the indigents. Despite collaborating with the Ministries of Health, Gender and social protection for the development of a common targeting mechanism to identify the poor, the consultations with chiefs, religious leaders, assembly members, and other opinions leaders has succeeded in identifying more poor people to register under the indigents program.
Social networks includes the use of technology such as YouTube, blogs, LinkedIn, storify, and flicker, podcast, e-newletters, Instegram, RSS feed, Pinterest, and whatspp. This media are used to exchange ideas and find solutions to health issues of concern. A nurse through the use of text or WATSAPP messaging can discuss patient condition with the physician and reach a treatment schedule. In terms of emergency the use of social media is essential to safe lives as experts can be communicated to and receive feedback or directives on handling critical situations. Finally social media is important to fill in the gap of both human resource and equipment.
Managers of health care however need to guide against the abuse which can compromise in quality of care, patient confidentiality, and invite medico-legal complications.