Health News of Friday, 11 July 2014
The Ghana Chamber of Pharmacy has said it will not be able to supply medicines and medical consumables to health institutions that are in arrears beyond two months. The Chamber, an umbrella body of all corporate players in the Pharmaceutical Industry, said it can only offer, from August 1, a two-month credit to health institutions.
A statement signed by Ernest Owusu Aboagye, Lead Advocate of the Chamber, and copied to Ghana News Agency, said inadequate releases and delays in payments to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), have, and continue to take a huge toll on the businesses of Pharmaceutical Companies.
“The Pharmaceutical Industry has observed that in 2013 for instance, only 54 percent of the statutory payments due to be released from the Finance Ministry were actually released to the NHIA.” The statement said the Finance Ministry’s failure to release funds to NHIA means the Health Insurance Authority is woefully behind time in honouring its obligations to services providers.
This, according to the statement, has rendered service providers incapable of paying for medicines pharmacies supply them. It said the NHIA is in arrears of nine months in the Upper East and Northern Regions, and six months in the Ashanti Region.
The statement said the plight of the Chamber has been worsened by the dwindling exchange rate. “The current exchange rate regime is creating huge losses to pharmaceutical distributors. The situation has impaired the ability of the industry to service loans and overdrafts procured from the banks, to bridge the funding gap in order to sustain supplies to the health institutions,” it said.
The statement pointed out that the situation has created shortage of stocks of essential medicines within the industry. It also warned of an imminent shortage of essential medicines within the health sector if funds are not released.
The statement called on government to direct the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to ensure the immediate release of finds to the NHIA, adding that Section 52 of Act 852 of the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) requires the Ministry to cause all collections for National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to be paid within 30 days.