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11.03.2009 Health

Develop cost-containment measures for universal insurance scheme - Veep

By gna

Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday tasked health authorities to come up with "cost-containment" measures that would lead to a speedy implementation of a universal health insurance scheme to help bridge the inequality gap in health care between the rich and the poor in Ghana.

Vice President Mahama said government was determined to work towards the realization of a one-off health care scheme.

"Our national health insurance scheme should be based on our core values as a nation, the values of a health system funded by all of us and available to each of us, equally, free at the point of treatment, with care based on our need and not our ability to pay," he added.

Vice President Mahama, who was speaking at the inauguration of African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA) in Accra, also asked health planners to work towards policies that would ensure "proper balance in the financing of health care to ensure the sustainability of quality services, especially more marginalised groups”.

The Association, which is an amalgamation of health experts in economics, financing and policy development, seeks to use their union as a platform to help improve the performance of public health systems in Africa.

The Association would also be an interface between health researchers and policy makers and how the two fields can dialogue to improve health practices on the continent.

Vice President Mahama hailed the formation of the association as it could help scale up improvement in health outcomes on the continent.

This fact, he said, was predicated on the idea that Africa's overall wealth that had as its basis the use of health as a "productive force" to help drive the economy.

Mr. Mahama noted that the demands for the increase in health care coverage to meet the equity objectives for improvements in the quality of health care and the pressure to meet the MDGs required additional resources.

He called for urgent efforts to make optimal use of available resources through cost-containment and efficient resources management.

To ensure the sustainability of the one-off payment, Vice President Mahama called on economists, planners, policy analysts and managers working in the health sector to guide the country to the challenge of finding a proper balance in financing health.

He urged the Association to use the platform to promote the use of health economies in policy development, planning and management of health programmes

on the African continent.
Dr George Sipa Yankey, Minister of Health, said the survival and sustainability of the Health Insurance required robust knowledge and skills

in the health economics.
"As health economists, you stand very tall when it comes to conducting economic analysis as well as to calculate the cost effectiveness and efficiency of health interventions."

Dr Chris Atim, Chairman of the Planning Committee of AfHEA, said the proposal to set up an AfHEA was as a result of the realisation that "as an input into health sector policy making in Africa, the potential of health economies as an aid to decision making is often not fully appreciated or exploited, and is in some cases practically non-existent".