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13.09.2005 Health

Low premiums paid hindering take-of of NHIS in W/R

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Busua (W/R), Sept 13, GNA - Dr Sylvester Anemana, the Western Regional Director of Health Services, has said though people have registered for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), low premiums paid was delaying its implementation.

He said out of the eligible population registered in the Juaboso Bia District, only five per cent had paid their premiums as against 41 percent in Sefwi Wiawso.

Dr Anemana said this at a day's workshop for media personnel in the Western Region on Monday.

It was organised jointly by the Western Regional Task Team of the NHIS and the Western Regional Branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA).

Dr Anemana said the Jomoro District had eight per cent while the Shama Ahanta East Metropolis (SAEMA) had the lowest premium payment of 0.8 per cent.

Dr Anemana said to prevent the scheme from collapse the various schemes had been asked by the Regional Task Team to increase premium collections to make the scheme sustainable.

He said the Bibiani-Ahiwaso-Bekwai District had collected 330 million cedis, Juaboso District, 423 million cedis, SAEMA 467 million cedis, Sefwi Wiaso District 467 million cedis and Wassa West Districts 208.6 million cedis.

''Inadequate equipment and staff, logistics and an increase in hospital attendance are some of the challenges facing the region.'' He said the Bibiani-Ahiwaso-Bekwai District NHIS, which began on July first, had already spent 76 million cedis out of its total premium of 330 million cedis within a month.

"This, if not properly checked, can collapse the scheme since dependents and under-aged within that district are more than contributors to the scheme," he cautioned. Dr Anemana said Bibiani-Ahiwaso-Bekwai, Wassa Amenfi West and Jomoro districts have registered with the National Health Insurance Council (NHIC) but are yet to receive their certificate.

Mr James Kyei, the Chairman of the Regional Task Team of the NHIS, said less than 20 per cent of the total population of the Western Region have registered for the NHIS.

He said even though the poor, those above 70 years and children under 18 years could access free health care under the NHIS they must register first.

"Those who fall within the exempt policy but fail to register will have to pay cash at the various health facilities nationwide before they can access health care," he said.

Mr Kyei appealed to religious groups in the Western Region to devote the entire month of October as National Health Insurance Month and use five minutes to educate their members on the benefits of the scheme.

He appealed to traditional rulers to use festive occasions to educate their subjects on the importance of the NHIS and encourage them to patronise the scheme.

Mr Frank Monchia, the Acting Western Regional Chairman of the GJA, advised members to allow the national interest to supersede their personal gain.

''Shift your focus from political issues to development, health, social and economic issues that will transform the lives of the ordinary person.''

Mr Monchia appealed to the media not to sideline the poor but rather assist them to contribute to the growth of the country. 13 Sept 05