Accra, Nov. 23 GNA - The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) despite the many teething problems and difficulties in its implementation, has exceeded the registration target for this year by about five per cent, President John Agyekum Kufuor has announced. More than 15 per cent of the country's population have registered with the Scheme and were eligible to enjoy free medical services in health institutions.
The Scheme had projected to register 10 per cent Ghanaians for the year.
President Kufuor, who did not hide his joy at this development, said: "There is room to do even better. This should convince all and sundry that the Scheme must be supported to work as a better alternative to the Cash and Carry."
He was addressing the opening ceremony of the National Forum on Health at the Accra International Conference Centre on Wednesday. The three-day forum on the theme: "Creating Wealth Through Health", is discussing practical ways in which the health sector could contribute to the realisation of the national vision of achieving middle-income status by the year 2015.
President Kufuor said the pillars driving the Government's vision of Good Governance, Private Sector Development and Human Resource Development presumed a strong and healthy workforce.
It was on the basis of this that over the past five years, the proportion of budget allocation to the health sector had increased from 9.1 per cent in 2001 to 13.1 per cent in 2006.
"When projected inflows from the NHIS and contributions from development partners are included, the per capita expenditure on health for 2006 is estimated at 23.3 million dollars. This is one of the highest in the (West Africa) Sub-Region".
President Kufuor said the result of the increased investment was reflecting in key health indicators and cited for example the drop in HIV/AIDS prevalence rate from 3.4 per cent in 2004 to 3.1 per cent in 2005, zero percentage report of polio this year as against 23,000 cases in 2000 and the remarkable reversal of guinea worm cases.
He said at the same time access to health services had been improving. More than 200 health projects comprising Community-based Health Planning and Services Compounds (CHPS), health centres, hospitals and training institutions distributed across the country were being implemented.
President Kufuor described indiscipline and lawlessness on the part of some road users as a major threat to human resource development in the country and expressed the hope that all Ghanaians would appreciate the efforts being made by the Police to bring some sanity on the roads. He announced that the National Ambulance Service introduced in 2003 and piloted in Ashanti, Eastern and Greater Accra Regions was being extended nation-wide and that 50 more ambulances had been procured for the purpose.
He said since health hazards had become so pervasive, the containment could not be left to Government and the Ghana Health Service and it was time, the promotion of good health was seen as an inter-sectoral endeavour.
President Kufuor challenged the forum to come up with suggestions that would lead to a national health policy that clearly defined the relationship between health and development, healthy lifestyles and environment, improved and equitable access to quality health care and co-ordinated approach in tackling wider determinants of health.
Major Courage Quashigah (rtd), the Health Minister, said health was at the centre of economic growth since healthy, strong and active human capital determined the level of productivity.