10.11.2005 Business & Finance

BUDGET: About 700 billion cedis realized from NHI Fund

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Accra, Nov.10, GNA - The National Health Insurance Fund has generated over 700 billion cedis since it was set up, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning announced in Accra on Thursday.

Presenting the 2006 Budget Statement to Parliament, he said the Fund was basically to be used to serve as a subsidy for the exempt category of the scheme which included the poor, children under 18 years, pensioners, adults over 70 years and others.

The Fund is also to support activities that can improve the quality and quantity of health care in the country.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu said the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was set up to provide affordable access to health care for all citizens especially the poor and vulnerable.

He said the Scheme was now operational in 63 districts with the remaining districts at various stages of readiness. The Finance Minister said the Government recognised that the implementation of the scheme had been slowed down by a number of practical problems of inception.

He said in spite of the implementation challenges, the Government remained convinced about the efficacy of the NHIS as the fairest and most equitable means of delivering quality and affordable health care to Ghanaians.

"Government is resolved to ensure that the NHIS achieved full and comprehensive coverage of all Ghanaians before the end of 2007," He added.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said, consequently, government would ensure that all SSNIT contributors, whose premiums were already covered, would enjoy full NHIS coverage by the end of next year. Additionally, he said government would also ensure that anyone who joined the SSNIT scheme for the first time in the coming year would also get full NHIS coverage.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said government would further ensure that all the 138 District Mutual Health Schemes, which formed the backbone of the NHIS would be fully operational by the end of next year. "We know that ultimately, the success of the NHIS, and indeed, of the government's efforts to deliver good quality healthcare to our people, will depend on the continuing availability of highly trained and motivated health professionals."

"To address the problem of low remuneration among the dwindling corps of health professionals, the Government has decided to replace the chaotic and very expensive Additional Duty Hours Allowance (ADHA) with a rational and sustainable rewards system, " He added.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said in December 2004, the Ghana Health Service developed a comprehensive rewards system based on established criteria of pay policy management and this would be put into effect in the coming year.