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Health News of Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Source: GNA

NHIA urged to review age exemption

Help Age Ghana, a non-governmental organization, has appealed to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to review downwards the age exemption from the payment of premium from 70 years to 60 years.

Mr. Ebenezer Adjetey-Sorsey, Executive Director for Help Age Ghana, made the appeal on Monday when a delegation of older people called on Mrs. Benita Sena Okity-Dua, the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, as part of the celebration of World Health Day in Accra.

He explained that 60 years was the proposed chronological age definition of an older person in the National Ageing Policy and it was important that the NHIA pegged its exemption age from the payment of premium to 60 years.

“As it stands now, the exemption age by the NHIA is not meant for the living as the average life expectancy in Ghana is 60 years and it is important that a review is made as soon as possible,” he said.

Mr. Adjetey-Sorey said it was also worrying that the NHIA prescribed the same basic healthcare services for all members without taking into consideration the tertiary healthcare needs of older people, especially in the area of communicable diseases such as retention of urine, incontinence, prostate and colon cancers and impairments.

He said section 30 (3) of the NHIS Act, 2012, mandates it to assess the benefits package under the scheme every six months and it was an opportunity to gradually take on board the healthcare needs of older people over time under the scheme.

He also appealed to the NHIA to intensify community awareness campaign to increase the understanding of the rights and entitlements of members, especially the older people to increase their enrolment on the scheme.

Mr. Adjetey-Sorey said there was the absence of specialized training in geriatrics for health workers leading to some health workers describing the medical condition of older people who visit their facilities as ‘Old Age’ even though it is not a disease.

He, therefore, called for the incorporation of geriatrics into the curriculum of health institutions to enable them fully attend to the health needs of the older people, as there is ample evidence that the population in Ghana is ageing at an alarming rate.

He also called for the scope of community health nursing to be expanded to include house-to-house health information service and treatment for older people in their homes, especially the bedridden ones.

“The National Scale-up Plan on Ageing developed in August 2013 should also be incorporated into the National Healthcare Strategic Plan to fully cater for the health needs of older people in the country,” he said.

Mrs. Okity-Dua commended Help Age Ghana for working towards ensuring the welfare of older people.

She said the development of a good healthcare system for older people was imperative and the government was working assiduously to ensure that the National Ageing Policy was fully implemented.

She said the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection was working closely with the Health Ministry to introduce geriatrics into the syllabi of health training institutions to make health workers more prepared to appreciate and adequately provide healthcare services for older people.

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