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15.06.2004 Health

Support Govt efforts to make health services open to all - Aliu

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Accra, June 15, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama on Tuesday urged the Private Sector to introduce affordable health care and financial schemes to aid the Government's efforts at ensuring that every citizen obtained, at least, basic health care services without paying at the point of delivery.

He said this when he launched the Gemini Health Care Plan, the first Health Maintenance Organisation to be established after the promulgation of the National Health Insurance Act (Act 650). Gemini Life Insurance Company (GLICO) sponsors the plan.

Vice President Mahama noted that the high cost of medical care had denied many people access to basic health care thus leading to avoidable deaths, saying: "National development suffers as productive citizens are lost to treatable diseases."

It was to reverse this unfortunate trend, he said, that the NHIS had been introduced to replace the Cash and Carry System. Under the NHIS Law, it is mandatory for every person resident in Ghana, with the exception of the Ghana Police Service and Ghana Armed Forces, to belong to any of the three approved schemes: the district mutual health insurance, private mutual health insurance and private/commercial health schemes.

The Vice President stressed: "Whilst recognizing that there is no perfect health financing system, a social health insurance health programme that can cover all residents if well implemented is less regressive and more equitable in nature than the Cash and Carry System." He commended GLICO for their initiative and advised them to constantly improve upon their plan to make it more responsive to the needs of their clients.

He encouraged such private service providers to also cover the non-urban and informal sector and not to restrict themselves to the formal sector.

The GLICO Health Plan provides a comprehensive health scheme through a network of selected clinics and hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies and services for both in patients and outpatients. For a fixed prepaid fee of premium, members have the option to select any of the four ranges of services with the enhanced plus package offering the best benefits.

Mr Moses Dani-Baah, Deputy Minister of Health, advised GLICO and other prospective private health insurance providers to seek accreditation when the Legislative Instrument covering the NHIS was approved by Parliament.

The LI specifies registration requirements, accreditation standards and the rules for governing the scheme.

Mr Dani-Baah said the Government would continue to foot 80 per cent of the health bill, which it currently finances through taxes and donor support under the Cash and Carry System. The NHIS would top up the budget. 15 June 04