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12.09.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Politicising NHIS

Statesman

THE New Patriotic Party, when in opposition, promised to abolish the Cash and Carry system of health care delivery if it won political office. Indeed, it was a major theme in the 2000 elections, with even the NDC government at the time also promising to introduce a health insurance scheme. The only disagreement among the various political parties was on the form that it should take. True to its word, the NPP since winning the 2000 election has instituted measures such as free child delivery in government hospitals, among others, to ensure that health care need not be tied to one's ability to make prompt payment for the service.

This is primarily what the National Health Insurance Scheme is meant to achieve. The NHIS is perhaps the biggest social development project undertaken by any government since Nkrumah after Ghana's independence.

However, the implementation of this well-intentioned and absolutely vital social intervention has not been without difficulties. No one in Government can deny this fact. It is not our intention to go into the problems that currently bedevil the Scheme because they are well-documented and we believe that the managers of the Scheme are very much aware of them and are working at them. We are worried, however, that even before the Scheme is made functional in every part of the country, attempts are being made to make sure the Scheme does not work.

A GNA report carried on Friday said rumours are rife within Sissala East and West Districts in the Upper West Region that contributions towards the National Health Insurance Scheme are to generate funds for the New Patriotic Party Government to campaign in the 2008 elections.

Even without any investigation, the falsity of this wicked rumour is more than evident. It is indeed sad that an inexcusable falsehood as this should be spread in two districts in one of the poorest regions. We would urge the managers of the Scheme in the two districts to intensify education and awareness creation to counter the harm that this vile rumour may have caused. Just as democracy is for now the best governance model known to man, so is the NHIS the best alternative to the Cash and Carry system that Ghanaians have collectively resolved to jettison.

The difficulties that the Scheme has run into should not cause us to develop a cynical attitude towards it. Instead, we should see it as an opportunity to put aside our political differences for once and show proof that we do not always need outside assistance to provide for the needs of our people. Perhaps, a fine tuning of the NHIS message might do the trick.

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