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10.03.2006 Health

Investigate cynical remarks on NHIS by health workers-Minister

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Koforidua, March 10, GNA - Mr Yaw Barimah, Eastern Regional Minister, on Friday called on the Ministry of Health to investigate cynical remarks allegedly made by some health workers to clients of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) who patronise their facilities. He said the 1992 Constitution allowed public servants to belong to political parties of their choice but "It is bad when a public servant allows politics to influence his or her work and worse of all, when the public servant involved is providing health service."

Mr Barimah made the call when addressing the closing session of a three-day Ghana Health Service (GHS) Provider Readiness Forum at Koforidua.

The forum was attended by representatives from each of the 10 regions to review challenges faced by service providers in the implementation of the NHIS and to plan for the way forward.

Mr Barimah said the survival and sustainability of the NHIS depended, to a large extent, on what clients of the scheme experienced at the health facilities and reminded health staff that their attitude could either make or mar the overall sustainability of the Scheme. He commended staff of GHS for their contribution towards the implementation of NHIS and encouraged them to be well positioned for the challenges ahead and assured them that their efforts would be rewarded.

Mr Francis-Xavier Andoh-Adjei, National Scheme Co-ordinator of the National Health Insurance Council (NHIC), gave the assurance that the council was ready to collaborate with health providers to ensure the sustainability of the schemes.

He said the council expected service providers to reciprocate any collaborative efforts by strictly adhering to the claims management systems and procedures established to protect the scheme against fraud and other moral hazards that could affect its sustainability. Mr Andoh-Adjei said data available to the NHIC indicated that 4,385,412 Ghanaians representing 21.5 per cent of the estimated population of the country registered with NHIS in 2005.

He said presently the scheme was functioning in 125 districts and municipalities in the country with a few districts remaining in the three northern regions.

Dr Irene Agyepong member of NHIC who gave an overview of the status of provider readiness in the regions, said huge unpaid exemptions bills had crippled many health institutions to the extent that those institutions could no longer finance stocking of essential drugs and supplies to deliver services.

She therefore, called for early payment of such bills to enable the health institutions provide the needed service to support the schemes. Dr Agyepong called for the integration of the exemption policy into the health insurance concept by providing insurance coverage for poor families.

Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyirah, Eastern Regional Director of Health Services, observed that to make the NHIS successful, there was the need for more efforts to be placed on health prevention.