Asamankese, (E/R) Nov. 12, GNA - The West Akyem District Health Insurance Scheme (DHIS) has registered 17,000 people, with 8,868 of them, who had registered as the first batch benefiting from the Scheme. Registration for the first batch ended on May 31, this year, while so far, 9,000 have registered under the second batch and they will access the mutual health insurance facility from January 1, 2006. Mr. Stephen Asukpa Odame, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the scheme, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that premium paid by those who registered up to the end of May was 141 million cedis. He said since the first batch started benefiting from the scheme in June/July, 777 members had accessed health care for which the scheme had paid over 35 million cedis and from August, over 58 million cedis was expended to foot the medical bills of beneficiaries.
Mr. Odame said of the 8,868 who started benefiting from the scheme on June 1, 1,985 were those who paid the required full premium of 72,000 cedis, 2,342 were Social Security and National Insurance Trust contributors, 444 were those under 18 years whose parents had joined the scheme, 815 were those over 70 and 51 SSNIT pensioners who were exempted from paying the premium.
The PRO said 15 health facilities were taking care of members including three hospitals, the Asamankese Government Hospital, St Dominic's Hospital at Akwatia and the Nsawam Government Hospital. He said there were 270 communities in the West Akyem District with a population of about 1,621,000 and though awareness of the National Health Insurance Scheme was high, there was the need to reach every corner of the district to educate people on how the scheme works and to register them.
Mr Odame observed that there were factors militating against the smooth running of the scheme, including lack of logistics to carry out effective sensitization, over politicization and lack of funds. He said the scheme aimed at registering up to 40,000 people by the end of December, if logistics were available.
He observed that for the scheme to be sustained, it was necessary for beneficiaries to go to hospital only when they were really sick, adding "the scheme should by all means be sustained because of the inhuman nature of the cash and carry system being replaced by the health insurance scheme."
The PRO urged SSNIT contributors who were automatic members of the scheme to register and wandered why many were reluctant to do so. Mr Odame thanked the DANIDA for supporting the scheme in the form of logistics and capacity building.
He appealed to the West Akyem District Assembly for support to enable the scheme to achieve its full potentials, for instance in providing more spacious office accommodation.