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29.10.2008 Politics

Nana outlines Health initiatives -Pledges 10% of budget for healthcare

By The Statesman

The next NPPgovernment under Akufo-Addo's presidency will commit 10% of the national budget to healthcare within the next five years, to give impetus to the implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the health status of the citizenry

This was disclosed by the party"s Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, when he addressed the medical staff of the Koforidua Government Hospital as part of activities marking the first phase of his campaign tour of the Eastern Region, which ended Monday.

Among the initiatives the Akufo-Addo presidency intends to implement to achieve the goals on health as outlined in the NPP manifesto, include reforming and strengthening the National Health Insurance Scheme, improving sanitation by cleaning up the environment, increasing the proportion of the population with access to potable water and linking traditional medicine practitioners more to the formal system of healthcare delivery.

On the NHIS, Nana Akufo-Addo outlined a number of measures to be carried out in the reforms.

They include reducing paperwork and thus speeding up the processing of applications as well as payment to health providers for services rendered; completing the ongoing production of a centralised data-base that would enhance portability; training the NHIS staff better to enhance professionalism and accountability and accelerating the construction of facilities, among other things.

Even though the Presidential Candidate acknowledges the need to effect some changes in the NHIS, his fear is that the changes proposed by the opposition National Democratic Congress would be detrimental to the growth and sustenance of the Scheme.

"While the NHIS must change, it must change for the better, not the worse. We are concerned that the NDC's promise of a one-time premium may endanger the Scheme.

Either the one-time premium will be so high that many cannot afford it and we will revert to the 'cash and carry system' or it will be so low that the Scheme will collapse from cash-flow difficulties as more and more Ghanaians sign up,' Nana Akufo-Addo explained.

He added, 'While we will not accuse the NDC of any sinister motives for suggesting changes that may collapse the NHIS, we question their judgement on the NHIS.

They were wrong to oppose it. They were wrong to criticise it; and they were wrong to suggest a single premium that may collapse it.'

Nana Akufo-Addo noted that the sustenance of the NHIS required not only government action, but also health professionals who think not only of quality but also of cost.

'In this regard, our healthcare professionals must come to appreciate more and more the importance of using effective but affordable care, rather than extravagant cures that are no more efficacious,' he told the health workers.

While expressing his unbounded admiration to the health workers for their contribution to national development, the Presidential Candidate urged them to adopt a more positive attitude towards their work, while protecting public property and equipment in their care.

Nana Akufo-Addo re-iterated his call on all Ghanaians to work collectively at preserving the nation's peace ahead of the December general elections. 'To have a healthier Ghana, we must have a peaceful Ghana.

That is why I, as well as other leaders of the NPP, have repeatedly stated that there needs to be no violence before, during and after this election. No blood must be spilled in the name of this election. Let us show tolerance for one another and for opinions that may differ from our own,' he underscored.