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General News of Monday, 10 February 2014

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Update: Pharmacy Chamber rescind decision to cut supply but...

The Ghana Chamber of Pharmacy has rescinded its earlier decision to cut the supply of medicines to health facilities operating under the NHIS following the release of Ghc104 million to settle two months of arrears owed the service providers.

The Chamber had threatened to cut supply of medicines to health institutions operating under the NHIS due to non payment of arrears.

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says it released Ghc104 million to service providers, covering claims for the months of August and September, 2013.

Selorm Adonu, Communications Director of the NHIA disclosed Monday on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, the authority will settle the remaining claims to service providers as soon as the Ministry of Health releases the funds.

Pharmaceutical companies supplying health facilities with medicines under the National Health Insurance Scheme are struggling to keep themselves in business as a result of the Authority's inability to promptly pay claims submitted, some dating as far back as May, 2013. They had demanded that the NHIA reimburses them their arrears up to January 2014.

But the NHIA released money to pay for just two months.

Selorm Adonu said the delay in reimbursing the service providers stems from the fact that payments to the NHIA are made by the government through the Ministry of Health - quite a laborious process.

He said it takes approximately sixty-working days for claims to be processed and blamed the delay partly on the service providers for either filing claims late or failing to follow up after they have submitted claims.

The Pharmaceutical distributors last week announced that from Monday, February 10, 2014, it will suspend supply of medicines to hospitals across the country under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) following failure of Authorities to reimburse distributors for medicines supplied.

Communications Director of health facilities operating under the NHIS, Anthony Ameka, said if the supply of medicines was suspended, the hospitals would be compelled to demand cash from patients before providing them medical services.

In order to forestall the situation, the NHIA released claims for two months which is expected to hit the accounts of service providers by close of work Monday February 10, 2014.

Stanley Adjei, Head of Research at the Ghana Chamber of Pharmacy, however, says the amount released cannot cover the operational costs of the service providers.

He said the facilities have been stretched to their limits such that; "the partial release...is not enough to bring reasonable level of stability in our operations".

"We will continue to make supplies but we will also continue to engage government to release the rest of the funds," Mr. Adjei said.