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25.01.2007 Health

NHIS implementers undergo peer review

By Yaaba Yamikeh
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The deputy minister of Health, Samuel Owusu-Adjei, has re-iterated that even though the National Health Insurance Scheme is fraught with a number of challenges, it is the best medical scheme that Ghana has ever had.

All Ghanaians, irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliations, he said, must therefore support and invest in this venture through which a healthy, happy nation could be built.

Speaking at the 6th annual peer review conference of the Network of Mutual Health Organisations of Ghana-GNeMHO- in Takoradi last Friday, the deputy health minister noted that there is currently no better alternative to the NHIS and it would be prudent on the part of the implementers to guide the populace into accepting and taking full advantage of the opportunity that the scheme offers.

This, he said, could only be done from a position of knowledge.

In his view, most of the challenges facing the scheme such as low coverage, poor working relationship between some providers and schemes as well as delays in processing of cards are not insurmountable.

He said all these are human problems which could be solved if stakeholders develop positive change in attitudes, adding that the National Health Insurance Council on its part is committed to supporting the scheme with the necessary logistics and other requirements needed to ensure its success.

Mr Owusu-Adjei stressed that as watchdogs and promoters of the scheme, it is very necessary for the managers and the board to monitor their activities periodically to ensure that funds disbursed are used for the intended purpose.

In an address read on behalf of the Chairman of the NHIC, a member of the Council, Scholarstica Mensah, urged the scheme management to collaborate with district assemblies in educating the people on gains to be derived from the scheme.

Subscribers, she said, should also be educated and cautioned against abuse of the system by frequent and unnecessary visits to the hospitals.

Mrs Mensah noted that after achieving its target of assisting in the establishment of scheme, sensitisation of the populace and accelerating registration , the focus of the Council has now turned to consolidating the gains made, sustaining the momentum and establishing structures for monitoring and facilitating all the procedures involved.

The Ghana Health Service-NHIS co-ordinator, Philip Akanzige, intimated that to make the NHIS sustainable, there was the need that the nation's disease burden to be drastically reduced. This, he said, could be done through the implementation of a programme that would encourage Ghanaians to eat well and exercise their bodies regularly.

After commending the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment for re-introducing the 'saman-saman" concept to police unsanitary acts in our communities, Akanzige noted that unless a system is set up to support efforts by these sanitary inspectors, the concept would become a nine day wonder.

The president of the Network of Mutual Health Organisations of Ghana, Kweku Pratt, also called for the introduction of 'Health Insurance' as a subject at all levels of the educational ladder to make the implementation of the scheme easier.

The conference, which was under the theme "Improving performance of NHIS in Ghana, the role of stakeholders,” among other things examined ways of improving collaboration between the scheme and service providers, as well as finding solutions to challenges facing the scheme. It was chaired by the Omanhene of Essikado traditional area, Nana Kobena Nketsiah V.

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