THE ASHANTI regional branch of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) yesterday staged a gargantuan demonstration in Kumasi against the implementation of the capitation policy in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the region.
The demonstrators, who converged on Bampaso in Adum, the Central Business District (CBD) of the metropolis, marched through the principal streets of the city before presenting a petition containing their grievances to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II at the Manhyia Palace.
Clad in mourning clothes and assortment of NPP paraphernalia with red arm bands, amid singing and dancing, the angry party supporters drummed home their demand for the withdrawal of the capitation policy.
They wielded placards some of which read 'Why Not Capitation In Atta's Region But Ashanti Region', 'Why NDC, Do You Want To Kill The People Of Ashanti Region' and What Has Ashanti Done To You, Uncle Atta'.
The demonstrators danced to tunes of 'soloko' music which attracted a huge crowd. The demonstrators made a stopover at the offices of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) at Bantama where their leaders presented a similar petition to the regional manager.
The leadership was made up of Sam Pyne, Kennedy Kankam and Gideon Buoko, the NPP's regional secretary, organizer and youth organizer respectively
The crowd thickened when the demonstration reached the central market.
Persons who had come to the market for various business activities joined the demonstrators to express their displeasure about the new policy.
Police personnel detailed to provide security had a hectic time controlling the flow of traffic as the situation appeared to have gotten out of hand due to the huge crowd that attended the demonstration.
After marching through the principal streets of the city, the demonstrators finally arrived at the Manhyia Palace.
Though the crowd was not allowed entry to the inner court of the Manhyia Palace, they took possession of the whole area, chanting, 'Nana 2012 it is your time to redeem us from the wicked hands of the NDC' as the leadership conferred with officials of the palace.
The Asantehene's Chief of Staff, Kofi Badu, received the petition on behalf of Otumfuo.
Reading the petition, the NPP regional secretary, Sam Pyne, said the country's biggest opposition party was shocked at the level of politicization of the capitation policy by the ruling government.
He noted that the NPP had the impression that the policy was a national affair but became disgusted when leading members of the ruling party, including the General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia and Ama Benyiwaa Doe stormed the region to educate people on the policy.
Mr Pyne indicated that if the ruling government decided to assign their members to the region to throw dust into the eyes of the public, they would not sit unconcerned but would tell the true story.
He pointed out that the NPP did not want to play politics with the policy because it bordered on health issues but the party was compelled to do so because of the display of arrogance by the government.
According to him, if the policy was in the right direction to improve the health status of the people in the region, private health providers accredited by the scheme would not back out at the implementation stage of the policy.
Mr Pyne stressed that the withdrawal of private health providers meant that the people of Ashanti region would suffer in terms of healthcare delivery because the number of health facilities would be reduced drastically.
The regional secretary contended that attendance at hospitals had reduced since the introduction of the policy, which was leading to preventable deaths and complications.
'We cannot look on unconcerned whilst our people continue to die and develop complications unnecessarily as a result of the wicked intentions of the government,' Mr Pyne emphasized.
He stated that if Mr Asiedu Nketia and Ama Benyiwaa Doe thought that the capitation policy was good then they were at liberty to lobby the government to introduce the policy in their respective regions.
Stressing that the NPP would do everything within its power to ensure that the capitation policy was withdrawn from the region, the regional secretary promised more demonstrations in the coming days till the policy was terminated.
He wondered what quality care a subscriber would get when the capitation policy stipulated that a subscriber would be allocated with an amount of GH¢1.75 per month and was obliged to select three hospitals of his/her choice for medical treatment.
It is not clear whether the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) will heed the demand of the NPP as a group known as the Asante Development Union (ADU) had embarked on two consecutive demonstrations against the policy in the region.
From Morgan Owusu, Kumasi