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05.11.2005 General News

GMA urged to provide rules, codes for successful implementation of NHIS

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Sunyani, Nov. 5, GNA - Sir Sam Jonah, President of Anglogold Ashanti has challenged the Ghana Medical Association to come up with rules of engagement that will include codes of conduct on ethical and professional behaviour for its members.

He was addressing the 47th Annual General Conference of the Association in Sunyani, which was under the theme, "Implementation of National Health Insurance Scheme - Successes, Constraints and Challenges".

Sir Jonah noted that, if health providers did not introduce a high level of professionalism, transparency and honesty into the nascent system, the problems of other jurisdictions would rear their heads in the implementation of the Scheme. "Similar schemes have floundered, because the red tape and bureaucracy associated with its administration have moved doctors away from the practice of medicine and to turn them into pen pushers", he said.

The Anglogold President said the success of Ghana's initiative would rest largely on a clear understanding of the different roles or functions that are implicit in the nation's healthcare system, mentioning roles played by government, as well as the different kinds of public and private sector players. He noted that Ghanaians appreciated the bold initiative of the health insurance scheme, as an admirable and a vivid expression of the government's commitment to the basic human rights to health care and protection of the dignity of Ghanaians.

Sir Jonah however, stressed that the laudable initiative demanded a hefty significant financial commitment within an already severely constrained national budget.

"State health insurance schemes in other countries have failed due to several and varied reasons including lack of financial means and institutional capacity by the state to provide for a successful service, as well as lack of support from stakeholders including medical professionals and insurance providers".

To address these problems in Ghana, Sir Jonah called for significant funding from new national and international sources together with a shared responsibility, involving the government, international governments, NGOs, the private sector and the affected communities. He emphasized that preventive medicine ought to play a major underpinning role in the implementation of the national health insurance scheme, so that resources used for curative purposes could be saved to meet pressing needs such as the provision of much improved remuneration and facilities to make for the levels of job satisfaction.

"We need more trained medical personnel including doctors, paramedics, pharmacists and dentists to ensure the success of the Scheme", he said adding that the country could not afford the continuous exodus of trained medical personnel to other countries. Sir Jonah urged the government to explore all necessary options including the imposition of additional taxes or special levies on the better offs in society and corporate bodies in order to mobilize additional funding to meet pressing needs.

Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), Minister of Health urged the doctors to brace themselves to the increasing demands from contributors for quality health care under the Scheme.

He noted with regret that huge fortunes are spent on the training of medical personnel only for them to runaway to other countries for greener pastures to the detriment of the Ghanaian taxpayer. The Minister pointed out that the country was overburdened with preventable diseases like malaria and cholera, because of filthy surroundings, whose cost of cure was a big drain on the national economy.

"We need to change from the culture of treating diseases to the culture of preventing them and called for the intensive studies in nutrition in the medical school.

Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister noted that the scheme had not taken off smoothly as expected due to several factors and the most important was the politicisation of the scheme. He appealed to doctors to as much as possible, provide services within the parameters set by the agencies mandated to do so, so as not to run down the schemes financially.

The Regional Minister stressed that the success or failure of the National Health Insurance Scheme depended on the dedication, vigilance and astuteness of both the managers and service providers, especially the medical officers.

Professor Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, President of the Association noted that infrastructure and human resource constraints hindered the smooth implementation of the scheme and called for constructive criticisms for its success.

He stressed that health delivery needed to be re-crafted to suit the challenges and demands of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

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