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General News of Wednesday, 21 March 2018


Stop diverting NHIS funds to pay trainee nurses – Minority to Government

The Minority in Parliament has condemned government for diverting the funds meant for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to pay allowances of trainee nurses.

It has also accused the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) of wasting resources meant to fund the Health Insurance Scheme as Parliament approved some GH¢2 million for the Authority for 2018.

Government last year restored the monthly allowance for trainee nurses which was cancelled by the Mahama administration in 2014. The cancellation of the allowance became a key element of the Akufo-Addo campaign, igniting interest among nurses and parents.

The accusation of the Minority comes at a time when the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) planned to petition parliament over the Authority’s plans to increase the levy on the salaries of formal sector workers to fund the NHIS.

The proposed increment, according to the ICU, is unacceptable.

The NHIA recently announced plans to hike the Health Insurance levy by 1% moving it from 2.5% to 3.5%. Currently, formal sector workers pay 2.5% of their 17.5% contribution from the tier one pension fund to run the NHIS. Also NHIA proposed a 1% levy to be slapped on alcohol and tobacco to fund the NHIS.

Speaking to Starr News Tuesday, the Minority Member of Parliament (MP) for Daffiama Dr Sebastian Sandaare said the request by the NHIA for an increase in contributions is unjustified given its misplaced priority.

“I’m not against student nurses taking allowances. I’m not against that. What I’m against is the use of NHIA funds. Is it the core mandate of the National Health Insurance Authority to go and build a school? No, your [NHIA] function is to pay for health care to ensure that the poor and vulnerable can access quality health care.

“If you shift or move funds from the core objectives of paying for service providers [but] rather go and build a school, for me it is a misplaced priority which I won’t encourage because all these things add to the fact that the scheme is struggling, because once you pay service providers and you clear them they will have what it takes to provide quality health service and patients will go and be asked to pay for drugs…and other services as it is currently being done,” he stated.

But Chairman for the Health Committee of Parliament Dr. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah justified the NHIA’s decision to divert monies meant for the funding of the NHIS to pay trainee nurses’ allowance.

Nurses, he said “play every important role in the provision of health care to the people.”

“So if we all know that this allowance is going to enable hitherto if you like poor people from accessing health education to become nurses, so that we can have enough nurses [when] we all know that we haven’t reached the optimum level of nurse to patients ratio…

“So this Authority is rather assisting in providing the right human resources to improve our health outcome [which] ultimately will make Ghanaians healthier and then the burden on the Authority to pay for the cost of health care will also go down,” he explained.