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01.04.2004 Regional News

Regional Minister Launches Builsa District Mutual Insurance Scheme

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Sandema (U/E), March 31, GNA - The government has released 250 million cedis under the HIPC relief funds to the Builsa District Assembly in the Upper East Region to kick-start its Mutual Health Insurance Scheme (MHIS). The amount is to be used to put in place the needed infrastructure and other support services for the scheme's smooth take-off in the district on a pilot basis.

Launching the scheme, at Sandema on Tuesday, the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Mahami Salifu said the government was determined, against all odds, to ensure that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) becomes a reality to replace the infamous "cash and carry" system. He said as it is the case under the current "cash and carry" system, individuals, families and communities would no longer be expected pay cash at the point of service delivery when the NHIS is in full operation.

The Regional Minister indicated that even though individuals would be required to make regular contributions to the scheme towards the cost of their future health care, the government would provide subsidy to the poor and vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Mr. Salifu urged district assemblies; local government sub-structures as well as traditional authorities to mobilize and encourage their communities to join the scheme by explaining to them its enhanced health benefits.

On his part, the Builsa District Chief Executive (DCE), Reverend James Agalic said all the preparatory work has been done for the scheme to take off smoothly and called on the chiefs and people of the area to lend their support. He said the Assembly has set up a taskforce to co-ordinate various aspects of the scheme's implementation, including community education and sensitization.

The Upper East Regional Co-ordinator of Partners for Health Reform-Plus (PHR-PLUS), a technical support NGO, Mr. Joseph Sineka, told health care providers in the district to sit up, since under the MHIS beneficiaries would expect nothing less than the highest standards of service delivery. He, therefore, urged them to familiarize themselves with the patient's charter as a guide for ensuring that they live up to expectation.

Mr. Sineka noted that even though the level of poverty in the district is very high, the people should not use that as an excuse to stay away from the scheme. "The scheme was introduced to make basic health care affordable and accessible to the poor," he said.