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06.11.2005 Health

Doctors issue communique on NHIS

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Sunyani (B/A), Nov. 6, GNA - Members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) have made a number recommendations to the National Health Insurance Council (NHIC), Ministry of Health (MOH) and President John Agyekum Kuffour which, in the view of the Association, if absorbed and implemented, could facilitate the smooth implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

These were contained in a Communique issued by the Association at the end of its six-day 47th Annual General Conference held in Sunyani on Sunday.

The recommendations included the need for support from employers of health workers towards the establishment and funding of a Medical Protection Fund for doctors and the introduction of institutional indemnity provisions for health-care providers.

The government should live up to its responsibility and stated commitments to doctors and other health-care workers in resolving the issues of remuneration and general conditions of service. There was also a call on the MOH to bring together all health-care providers from the public and private sectors in order to facilitate the development of partnerships, improve collaboration and reduce wastage and duplication in the achievement of comprehensive and universally accessible health services.

The MOH should also recognize and include other Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as private sector organizations whose services are critical to ensuring a healthy population, in addition to ensuring expediting policy development in the health sector without which the achievement of national health outcomes would be constrained. The NHIC should actively engage private health-care providers both self-financing and non-profit in dialogue to ensure their effective participation in the implementation of the Scheme. The Association urged the Insurance Council to re-enforce and develop strategies to improve enrolment of the general public into the Scheme.

There was also a call upon the MOH to re-visit and facilitate the implementation of appropriately designed public health programmes aimed at reducing the disease burden and the national cost of health care. It also called on President John Agyekum Kufuor to recognize road traffic accidents and indiscipline on the nation's road network as a national disaster and accordingly commit government to address it as a national priority.

The recommendations came about after the six- day intensive discussion leading to a thorough post-mortem examination on the Conference theme: "Implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme - Success, Constraints and Challenges" in particular, the health sector in general and the country at large.

The Communique, signed by Professor Yaw Adu-Gyamfi and Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, the Association's outgoing President and General Secretary respectively, noted with concern negative issues which, if the authorities concerned failed to hold the bull by the horn to reverse the trend could jeopardize the good intentions the Government had adopted in changing from the old policy of cash-and-carry to health insurance system of operation at the nation's health delivery. The Communique, among others, noted with concern, the very low enrolment of the general public into the NHIS, the lack of knowledge and understanding of the Scheme, especially amongst health workers and the general public, the apparent marginalisation of preventive, health promotive and public health concepts and approaches in health care delivery in regard to the sustainability of the Scheme.

Other factors that could impede the hearty progress of the Scheme were, the inadequate recognition, involvement as well as support to private health care providers by the NHIC in the implementation of the Scheme, the increased work load, stress and exposure to professional liability of doctors and health care workers with the implementation of the Scheme, the lack of political will to take bold and pragmatic decisions to implement interventions to stem the exodus of doctors and health professionals, to reverse the general discontent and very low morale of health workers in the country.