The Leadership of the Government and Hospital Pharmacists Association (GHOSPA) has petitioned the National Health Insurance Authority to speed up processes leading to the revision of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Medicines List.
The Leadership of GHOSPA said that would ensure that the prices of medicines on the list would reflect prevailing market prices.
This was in a press statement issued by GHOSPA, signed by Mr Samuel Owusu, its General Secretary, and copied to the Ghana News Agency.
The statement said the review of the prices was necessary given the depreciation of the local currency and rising inflation, which had led to a rise in the cost of almost all essential medicines.
It said, “Although the NHIA updated the old version of the Medicines List (released in March 2021) as recently as July 2022 the acute economic straits facing the country have forced pharmaceutical distributors to hike the prices of medicines at rates of more than 50 per cent.”
It said, “This in turn has led to a situation where almost all essential medicines covered by the NHIS Medicines List are no longer within the price limits of the Authority's 2022 Medicines List Version.”
The statement added that “A lot of the medicines on the NHIS Medicines List are lagging by an average of 100 per cent of current market prices. For example, a tablet of Paracetamol, which used to cost 0.05 Ghana Cedis, is now 0.21 Ghana Cedis on the market whilst the NHIS price is currently set at GHc0.09.”
The statement said “Consequently, adequate stocks of essential medicines in hospital pharmacies was now becoming a luxury, a dire situation, making it difficult to provide pharmaceutical care and services to NHIS-insured clients.
“Our patients residing in rural and underserved areas of the country, who are mostly farmers, whose income levels are far below the daily minimum wage, are the most affected, since they do not have the financial capacity to make out-of-pocket payments to obtain the necessary medicines, which would have otherwise been covered by the NHIS.”
It said, “We again make a clarion call on the NHIA to leave from the usual practice of waiting for one year or more before updating the NHIS Medicines List since current economic situations would not favour such “business as usual” attitude.”
It said, “Ghana's aim of accelerating the achievement of Universal Health Coverage is strongly linked to the availability, affordability and access to essential medicines within the health system.”
The statement said, “Against this backdrop, the NHIA, which is the biggest health payer in the country, must review its medicines benefit package to ensure NHIS-insured clients, who form the majority of the working class and poor folks in our towns and villages, are not disadvantaged.”