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03.02.2006 Health

NHIS records low coverage in Upper West Region


Wa, Feb.03, GNA - About 55,000 people representing nine per cent of the population of the Upper West Region, have so far subscribed to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)and paid one billion cedis as premiums, Dr Erasmus Agongo, the Upper West Regional Director of Health Service has said.

He noted that the figure was below the national average of 10 per cent, and attributed it to inadequate public education and sensitisation programmes by field staff of the schemes to bring more people on board, and acute poverty in most rural communities.

Dr Agongo disclosed this when presenting a situational report on the scheme and the Community based Health Planning Services (CHPS) programme at a day's meeting between Health Managers in the region and the Regional Coordinating Council to deliberate on issues affecting efficient health delivery in the region.

He called for the provision of more resources to enable the region meet the national target of 50 per cent coverage by the end of this year.

On the CHPS programme, Dr Agongo said the region had demarcated 170 CHPS zones, initiated 48 of them with 21 CHPS compounds functioning fully while nine compounds were currently under construction. Mr Ambrose Dery, Upper West Regional Minister bemoaned the numerous challenges facing the health system in the region as a result of acute and pervasive shortage of health professionals.

The region, he said, ended 2005 in a worse situation than before in terms of numbers of medical doctors.

The Upper West Regional Hospital has only two junior medical doctors and an Ophthalmologist who is also the Acting Medical Director of the hospital while there is a medical doctor at each of the district hospitals.

Mr Dery said the only physiotherapist at the regional hospital left for social reasons and there had not been a replacement for him. He appealed to the Ministry of Health and the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to post the requisite Health professionals to the region without which the region could not attain Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) four and five.

Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, Director-General of GHS urged Principals of Nursing Training Colleges and the Regional Coordinating Councils in the North in particular to use their discretion to admit more students from their regions.

He said they could bond them to serve their communities after their training, as a way of addressing the manpower problems within the health sector of their regions.

Professor Akosa said the NHIS was the best policy for insuring quality health for the people and should therefore, not be politicised saying any person who dissuaded people from joining the scheme was doing great disservice to the nation.

He urged the District Assemblies to support the CHPS programme because it sought to promote good health in the remote rural communities where access to medical care had always been a big problem for the state.