A CALL TO SACK; MAHAMAâ??S HYPORCRISY AT PLAY
'All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible'.
â?? T.E. Lawrence
Almost every event has its prophetic prelude and so, coming events, they say, cast their shadows before them.
In the run up to the 2000 general elections, the NPPâ??s flagship promise was to abolish the then NDCâ??s obnoxious cash and carry policy in Ghanaâ??s healthcare delivery system and replace it with a more humane policy, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), when elected. The NDC, which was then in government, aggressively pooh-poohed the novelty saying the country was not ready for it. Different shades of flimsy arguments were desperately advanced by the NDC with its so called analysts and commentators declaring the NPPâ??s promise as impossibility and only a vote wooing gimmick. At the polls however, reason prevailed and the discerning Ghanaian electorates gave the NPP the nod.
Characteristic of the NDC, the maneuverings of their apostles of doom got to its crescendo in 2003 when, in the strongest indication ever of their opposition to the NHIS policy, the then NDC members of parliament including now President John Mahama staged a walk-out when the bill was introduced in parliament.
True to their words, the NPP under President J A Kufuour walked the talk by making access to quality health care for Ghanaians one of its main priorities. Under the NPP, the NHIS was introduced with children under 18, the aged above 70, SSNIT contributors and pensioners and the core poor exempted from paying premium. The exempt group (including children under 18) was however required to pay a registration fee which was initially fixed at between one and Two Ghana Cedis by the various schemes and later pegged at Four Ghana Cedis by the NHIA when the national biometric ID card was introduced. In recent times however, the registration fee is Five Ghana Cedis with most subscribers expected to pay an additional fee of GHC 5 for their photograph at some schemes. This brings the total registration fee for the exempt category to Ten Ghana Cedis (GHC10) making it even higher than the minimum premium of GHC7.2 chargeable under the NHIS law.
To further extend access to quality healthcare as promised, the NPP again introduced the free maternal healthcare programme, which benefits covers pre-natal and post-natal care, to address the canker of maternal and infant mortality which was then on the ascendency. Under the programme, pregnant women could literally walk to any healthcare facility and receive free health care without an NHIS card. Running under the aegis of a robust NHIS management architecture, an effective arrangement was put in place to capture the data of the beneficiaries under the programme for subsequent free registration onto the NHIS. New born babies were also covered freely under the programme for the first three months within which period they were issued with NHIS cards.
Today, the paradox is that as Ghanaians are raising genuine concerns about the eminent collapse of the NHIS programme, the NDC, which vehemently opposed its introduction, is on hand defending the schemeâ??s viability and sustainability to the amusement of all. Hypocrites indeed!
History is about to repeat itself. The campaigns are here again and the two main parties, the NPP and NDC, as usual are diametrically opposed on policy issues. The NPP and its presidential candidate Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo have made two major policies the cornerstone of their 2012 campaign thus; the flagship FREE SHS and the revitalization of the NHIS with emphasis on FREE QUALITY HEALTHCARE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 18 years. Whilst the NPP has put forward an incontrovertible analysis to support the feasibility of its policy propositions, the NDC, as usual, has jumped into the fray using any available platform to castigate the policies as empty rhetoric, premature and unachievable. The NDCâ??s apparatchiks and propagandists are high up on the rooftops calling on the electorates to ignore the NPPâ??s promises arguing that the nation is not ready for the free SHS. It is rather ironical to note that the so called social democrats are coincidentally the only party in this yearâ??s election which is against the free SHS policy. The hypocrisy is even more pronounced when the President and the NDCâ??s candidate John Mahama, who happened to be a beneficiary of the free SHS programme in the North under Dr Kwame Nkrumah, is the very one leading the dreaded and shameless crusade against it.
Ordinarily, the NDC, which professes to be social democrats should be the first to throw its support behind these laudable pro-poor policies but for the fact that its current team B players with their mediocre captain, John Mahama, lacks the wherewithal to organize something as complex as the provision of free SHS and free healthcare, they cannot but condemn it with all the alacrity and vim at their disposal. No wonder they opted for easier and less technical programmes such as free exercise books, free school uniforms, adoption of NPPâ??s free laptops per child programme, so called removal of schools under trees, free pens, free pencils etc. Of course, the NDCâ??s limitations are understandable in view of the fact that they lack the men with the requisite competency and managerial acumen to implement bold and seemingly challenging policies such as those being espoused by Nana Addo and the NPP. This is evidenced in their poor performance at managing the vibrant NHIS bequeathed to them by the NPP as they look on helplessly whilst the scheme collapses right under their watch. Their farcical onetime premium hoax and the incompetent and poor management of the pilot capitation programme in Ashanti region, which they are threatening to unleash on Ghanaians come 2013, are classical failures of the NDC when it comes to matters relating to the proper management NHIS and healthcare delivery in this country. The open secret today, very regrettable though, is that most of the providers have been forced to adopt co-payment or better still revert to what the NDC knows doing best-â??The cash & carryâ?? through the back door.
There is no doubt however that Ghanaians have bought into the big visions of the NPP and its flag bearer Nana Akuffo Addo and this clearly has sent the NDC jittering hence their offensive propaganda frolics.
About a couple of weeks ago, the NDCâ??s presidential candidate, His Excellency John Mahama, behaving like the proverbial drowning man, called on his main contender Nana Addo to sack his policy advisors on health. This followed the latterâ??s promise of providing free healthcare for all children under 18 years under the NHIS when he rolled out his health policy at the Sunyani Polytechnic. As to be expected, the call was quickly echoed by the NDC propagandists across the political space. The Presidentâ??s point was that children under 18 years were already enjoying what in his definition was a â??free healthcareâ?? under the NHIS. According to him, there was an administrative directive decoupling children from their parent under the NHIS which policy directive he claimed, had been in operation since 2009. He averred further that, Nana Addoâ??s health advisory team, which I understand, include internationally acclaimed healthcare experts like Professor Frimpong Boateng of the Cardiothoracic fame, Dr Owusu Nsiah, former CEO of Komfo Anokye Teaching hospital, Mr Ras Boateng, a healthcare financial analyst and management mogul, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor, Dr. Richard Anane, Dr Aurthur Kennedy among other top notch health professionals, fed him with a wrong information and should be sacked.
Soon after his assertion however, it came to light that the policy directive decoupling children below 18 years under the NHIS was actually issued by the former NPP administration in June 2008 which directive took immediate effect. This meant that the said policy had been in operation at least 6 months prior to the NDCâ??s coming into office in January 2009 and could therefore, not have been operationalised from 2009 as the President sorts to portray to Ghanaians for political gains. This was made emphatically clear by the former CEO of the NHIA Mr Ras Boateng and Hon Mathew Opoku Prempeh which position was later corroborated by the current CEO of the NHIA Mr Sylvester Mensah. Again, the decoupling policy directive did not make healthcare any free for the children below 18 under the NHIS as President Mahama sorts to imply. The impulse of the said policy directive by the NPP government was just to make it possible for children below 18 years to be able to register under the NHIS without their parents necessarily being subscribers to the scheme as was the case under the law. This, however, does not in any way exempt them from the payment of registration fees as explained above. In other words, the payment of registration fee by children under 18, like all other persons, is still a necessary requirement for subscribing onto the NHIS. So therefore, how can Nana Addoâ??s promise to exempt the children from paying the registration fee under NHIS to make it completely free be tantamount to policy plagiarism? Or is it the case that President Mahama and his NDC who pretends to be working for the Ghanaian are oblivious of the challenges the poor rural children faced with the status-quo?
In any case, why has the president not sack his officials who fed him with the cooked figures on the cost of training Ghanaian students under the supposed Cuban scholarship programme? The President, John Dramani Mahama, at the first IEA debate held in Tamale, categorically told Ghanaians that it cost â??onlyâ?? $5,000 a year to train a Ghanaian student in Cuba under the medical programme when, according to his own Minister of Health, the actual cost of training each one of our Senior High School graduates sent to medical schools in Cuba is GHÂ¢50,660.12 (Â¢506.6 million) a year. This means that the president was simply not truthful to the Ghanaian people and by his own prescription, his appointees who furnished him with those figures should have been dismissed. That is Mahamania for you! The old evil dwarfs and greedy bastards are still walking the corridors of power under his Presidency. The likes of Mr Barton Oduro, the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice who shamelessly defended the fraudulent payment of the gargantuan GH51.2millilon to Mr Woyome, Korku Anyido and his infamous â??heads must rollâ?? drama and many others are still at post pretending to be â??working for usâ??. Has he, Mahama, so soon forgotten that his own spokesperson Mr John Jinapor has also goofed on few occasions and had had to eat his humble pie by openly coming out to apologise to Ghanaians for churning out falsehood on his (then Vice President) Mahamaâ??s behalf? Why didnâ??t he dismiss him?
Whilst it may be considered normal to play with certain social issues, I believe the President knows all too well that those of health and education must not be toyed with. Many research reports on the health sector show that children are highly susceptible to diseases like malaria, measles, chicken pox, typhoid, anemia, worm infections, meningitis etc. Again, the health challenges posed by other neglected tropical diseases like onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis to the wellbeing of children are too obvious to be ignored. These often have dire health consequences as they lead to growth retardation, impaired cognition and micronutrient deficiencies among our children. Worst still, we are in a country where sanitation is a major challenge with only 14 % of the population said to have access to good sanitation. Access to portable water in the rural area is around 49%. The deplorable sanitation situation in our towns and cities under the better Ghana agenda epitomizes the danger the NDC poses to the health of the good people of Ghana. Many poor Ghanaian children are suffering from life threatening diseases but cannot access healthcare because they cannot afford the NHIS registration. Children are unable to continue their education to the SHS level because of poverty. Mass unemployment, high cost of living, falling Cedi, etc have engulfed the nation under the so called better Ghana.
Under these piteous circumstances, the least any caring president could do is to show leadership and concern and not the kind of cheap and peripheral propaganda the President and his campaign team sort to engage in with a serious issue as the health and education of our children and even recently the Melcom disaster.
As Henry Kissinger said â??Leaders must invoke an alchemy of great visionâ??. We need great visionary leaders like Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo who believe in Ghana and the Ghanaian people. He is entreating Ghanaians to believe in him and the NPP to deliver on the avowed dream of industrializing the economy, creating jobs, redefining the frontiers of our educational and healthcare systems and re-engineering the countryâ??s developmental paradigm. As he often says, our human resource is the most valuable resource and we must find the money to develop it. Our children cannot wait for another 20 years to enjoy free SHS and free healthcare under the incompetent NDC administration. History is beckoning our generation and we must all be part of it. Yes! We can all make it happen on December 7 by voting massively for Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo and the NPP to bring FREE QUALITY SHS , HEALTHCARE and JOBS NOW!