Tue, 11 Jun 2024 Article

Ghanaian Scholars Abroad Commend NHIA Dialysis Initiative

By Hannah Durowaa Odei- Opoku
Ghanaian Scholars Abroad Commend NHIA Dialysis Initiative

Every year, thousands of Ghanaians face the daunting challenge of accessing life-saving dialysis treatment. Now, a groundbreaking initiative by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) promises to change this narrative, offering hope to the nation's most vulnerable populations.

Renal disease has been on the rise in Ghana, with increasing cases each year highlighting the urgent need for accessible dialysis treatment. This escalating demand has placed a significant strain on the healthcare system, making the NHIA's new program more crucial than ever.

Ghanaian Scholars Abroad commend NHIA for launching a program to provide free dialysis sessions for children under 18 and adults over 60, along with subsidized sessions for those aged 18-59. Running from June to December 2024, this initiative highlights the Government of Ghana's dedication to addressing renal disease and enhancing health outcomes for at-risk populations.

Individuals under 18 and adults over 60 will receive eight free dialysis sessions per month, with an estimated total cost of GH₵ 2.3 million. Patients aged 18-59, who make up the majority, will receive two subsidized dialysis sessions per month at GH₵ 491 per session, totaling GH₵ 1.01 million. Additionally, patients at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital will benefit from further subsidized sessions due to philanthropic support, resulting in a cumulative cost of GH₵ 1.03 million.

In total, this initiative represents an investment of approximately GH₵ 4.4 million, benefiting 531 patients. Among these, 84 are from the vulnerable population, while 447 are aged 18-59. The selected centers include the six major teaching hospitals in Ghana: Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Effia-Nkwanta Teaching Hospital, Ho Teaching Hospital, and Tamale Teaching Hospital, with Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital accommodating 300 patients.

The program’s strength lies in its ability to enhance accessibility to dialysis services, provide financial relief to patients and their families, and improve health outcomes, potentially reducing mortality rates among renal disease patients, particularly in vulnerable groups. Take Ama, a 12-year-old from Accra, who has struggled with renal disease for years. “This program is a lifesaver,” says her mother. “We no longer have to choose between dialysis and daily necessities.” Stories like Ama’s underscore the transformative potential of NHIA’s initiative.

However, challenges such as sustainability beyond the initial six months, accessibility for newly diagnosed patients, and effective monitoring may arise. Addressing these issues will require strategies to reach a broader population, ensure rigorous monitoring and evaluation, and secure long-term funding commitments. Experts caution that ensuring sustainability will require innovative funding strategies and robust monitoring systems.

To enhance the success and sustainability of this initiative, it is crucial to establish long-term funding strategies, such as partnerships with international health organizations and continuous government and private sector support. Additionally, a robust monitoring and evaluation system is needed to track the program’s effectiveness and patient outcomes, allowing for necessary adjustments and improvements. Launching nationwide education and awareness campaigns about renal disease prevention and early diagnosis can also play a vital role. Investing in training healthcare professionals to manage dialysis treatments effectively and handle the increasing patient load is essential. Moreover, plans for the gradual expansion of dialysis services to include more patients and regions, ensuring broader access across the country, are necessary. Lastly, advocating for policies that support the long-term integration of dialysis treatment into the national healthcare system will be critical.

In conclusion, the NHIA's initiative marks a significant advancement in healthcare access and is a positive step toward improving health in Ghana and achieving the SDG3. Ensuring its success requires proactive measures to address potential challenges and develop a comprehensive sustainability plan with a focus on continuous monitoring and evaluation. Stakeholders, including the government, traditional councils and international bodies, must rally behind this program to ensure its long-term viability and maximize its impact on Ghana’s healthcare landscape.

Hannah Durowaa Odei- Opoku
Executive Member, Ghanaian Scholars Abroad