Health News of Friday, 15 June 2012
Source: BY YAW P. K. MANU
Maternal Care and Medicines Withdrawn: Sylvester Mensah
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority, Mr. Sylvester Mensah has indicated that the scheme is currently faced with a number of challenges, primarily financial, which can easily erode any gains it might have accrued to Ghanaians.
According to Mr. Mensah with a current annual expenditure of about ¢19million, the scheme is really struggling to stay above waters. He said plans were far advanced to significantly increase NHIS premium rates from the beginning of January 2013.
Mr. Mensah was shedding lights on various aspects of the scheme’s operations since the NDC assumed office, as well as long term plans to salvage the scheme which was introduced in the NPP administration, on TV3’s Mid-day News. According to the Mr. Mensah, because of the high cost involved, health delivery services like maternal care and free medicines have been withdrawn from the scheme.
His announcement comes at a time when the First lady, Dr. Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills has been trekking the length and breadth of the country, appealing to Ghanaians to help her realise her cherished vision of zero tolerance for maternal death in Ghana.
It will be recalled that President Kufuor during his tenure of office, successfully secured a £46million pounds grant from the British government to provide free maternal care to Ghanaians. But according to MR. Mensah, that facility has been withdrawn, as funds have run out. The NHIA boss also announced the introduction of the one-term premium scheme from the beginning of January next year. According to him, his institution, in collaboration with other relevant agencies is still working out modalities including the determination of how much premium will be charged under the one-time premium scheme.
Interestingly, in its 2010 Annual Report, under the heading “2011 Outlook (Page 11)” the NHIA states that the one-time premium scheme will take off from 2011! “One Time Payment would be operational in 2011. In this regard, NHIA will focus on developing implementation modalities and commence implementation as soon as official communication is
received from government”, the report states.
As part of measures to streamline the system to significantly cut down on waste and corruption, Mr. Mensah also announced plans to start biometric registration of patrons of the scheme in the not too distant future.
He also announced the nation-wide implementation of the controversial capitation system under the scheme, stating that about 90% of public health facilities were already on board.
Though the NHIA boss failed to state any significant achievement he has chalked since assuming office, Mr. Mensah was hopeful that they could pull the scheme from the woods before it collapses totally.