NHIA reforms: A new dawn for healthcare in Ghana - Dr. Aboagye

Health NHIA reforms: A new dawn for healthcare in Ghana - Dr. Aboagye

Dr. Aboagye Dacosta, a renowned healthcare expert, has expressed optimism about the recent reforms implemented by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

According to Dr. Aboagye who is the acting Chief Executive Officer of the NHIA, the reforms signal a new era for Ghana's healthcare system, promising improved access, quality, and affordability for all.

"The NHIA reforms are a game-changer," Dr. Aboagye said at a strategic engagement with critical stakeholders, including the media, traditional leaders, security personnel, health professionals, and a cross-section of the public, at Koforidua, the Eastern Regional Capital, at the weekend.

The Acting NHIA CEO also used the engagement as monitored by the Communication for Development and Advocacy (CDA Consult), [email protected], which is a development communication advocacy non-governmental organization based in Tema, Ghana, to discuss various reforms and initiatives aimed at improving the country's healthcare system.

Dr Aboagye noted: "They address long-standing challenges and pave the way for a more sustainable, efficient, and patient-centered healthcare system."

The reforms aim to expand coverage, reduce costs, and enhance service delivery, he said and stressed “I believe these changes will lead to better health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and a stronger healthcare workforce.

With the NHIA reforms, Ghana is poised to make significant strides in healthcare, and Dr. Aboagye's optimism is a welcome respite from the usual pessimism surrounding healthcare discussions.

The Acting NHIA CEO also announced plans to formalize the registration process for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), as part of the reforms to use the Ghana Card as the unique identifier for members, eliminating the need for the current NHIS card.

According to Dr. Aboagye, the move is aimed at reducing the barriers to access and making healthcare more affordable for all Ghanaians, stressing that the NHIA has already begun the process of linking the NHIS database with the Ghana Card database and the National Identification Authority (NIA) interface.

Dr. Aboagye also emphasizes the need for support and advocacy to ensure the success of these initiatives and achieve universal health coverage. Additionally, the NHIA has set up a committee to find solutions for dialysis patients, with a focus on vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.

He reiterated that the authority has allocated funds to cover dialysis sessions for children and the elderly, stressing that the authority has also directed hospitals to stop charging dialysis patients and will refund those who have already paid.

Dr. Aboagye urged the pessimistic to be optimistic about the sustainability of the NHIA’s move to provide free dialysis sessions for kidney patients under 18 and those 60 years and older.

He explained that, effective June 1 to December 2024, renal patients will receive all eight dialysis sessions per month for free, but that this pessimism has created doubt about what to expect after December 2024.

He said the NHIA, under his leadership and with support from the Board and the government, has devised a sustainable approach to funding dialysis sessions for patients in the country.

Dr. Aboagye also demised the pessimistic argument that it is a political approach to solving a major health problem to win votes: “We will not use the lives of Ghanaians for political expediency; no, we are professionals at the NHIA.”

Dr. Aboagye appealed for support from the media and the public to make the reforms successful and achieve universal health coverage.

The NHIA Acting CEO also revealed that the Health Committee of Parliament and government agencies in the health sector have agreed on a roadmap to address the late release of funds to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

He noted that stakeholders, including representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, the Controller and Accountant General, and NHIA leadership, met to discuss how to facilitate the release of funds by the government to the NHIA to run the NHIS.

The NHIA CEO also disclosed that the scheme’s coverage for renal diseases may be expanded to include other chronic diseases.

He explained that this is because kidney disease is not the only chronic illness in the country; as such, the NHIA is running actuarial studies to inform the way forward after the first announced six months of renal disease coverage.

So my advice, which the government knows about and on which we are working, is that we should look at it in totality. How do we fund chronic diseases, including dialysis?

"So what is happening is that we'll use this as learning to obviously see what we can do. By that time, the actuarial study would have been ready,” Dr Aboagye said.

Regarding which other chronic diseases might be included, the NHIA CEO said that he cannot prematurely disclose any other details to prevent expectations.

“But what I know is that we are looking at it in totality. It's not the case that we are only going to look at kidney diseases. We are going to look at other diseases. Governments do have a comprehensive plan from where I sit to not only focus on kidney diseases but other chronic diseases,” Dr. Aboagye added.

Dr Aboagye said that the NHIA would roll out preventive medical care, explaining “that the shift from a curative to a preventive approach, is essential for reducing the overall cost burden of healthcare.

“So the NHIS, by next month, will be rolling out what we call preventive healthcare as part of the claims budget.

"So far, since its inception, we have been focusing on curative care and services. How do we start from the bottom by introducing something that will reduce these chronic diseases and the cost burden?"

Other key points discussed include: formalizing the system by using the Ghana card as a unique identifier for NHI membership; automatic enrollment of SSNIT contributors; reviewing tariffs and implementing an automatic price adjustment mechanism; and solving the issue of illegal charges and co-payments.

The CEO as part of the engagement solicited the support of the public, especially the media, in educating the public, on the general reforms which also included improving access to dialysis treatment, especially for vulnerable populations, and enhancing preventive healthcare and e-pharmacy services.

CDA Consult
CDA Consult

News ContributorPage: CDAConsult

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