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Health News of Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Source: thefinderonline.com

Coalition launches Health Manifesto demanding universal coverage by 2030

Some 58 civil society organisations (CSOs) working in health in the country have come together to develop a Health Manifesto, which they say will help them engage the winning party in the upcoming polls in the area of health.

At the launch in Accra, Director of Programmes at Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights, Nii Ankonu Annorbah-Sarpei said that the five-part document will be utilised in their engagements with the various political parties before, during and after the December polls.

He stated that already “some aspects of the manifesto had been captured in the manifesto of the ruling NPP.”

He expressed optimism that other political parties will take sections of their manifesto on board in their yet-to-be-released manifestos to improve the delivery of health in the country.

He explained that “the objectives behind the creation of the Health Manifesto are to, among others, engage political parties to commit to strengthening Ghana’s health system through increased investments and the implementation of the proposal outlined by the CSOs to ensure that Ghana achieves the Sustainable Development Goal three (ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages) by 2030.”

He also stated that “the manifesto will educate and mobilise citizens and the public to understand gaps in the health sector and help them demand action from government and elected officials, as well as political parties.” It will also serve as a baseline document to hold political parties and governments accountable in ensuring healthy lives and promoting the wellbeing of all residents of Ghana.

Finally, this Manifesto has a list of priority areas which the CSOs expect winning political party to implement.

The overall objective of this manifesto is to have government invest in the expansion of the demand side and capabilities of the supply infrastructure of the health system to ensure equitable and quality access to all citizens. Among its list of demands, the Health Manifesto seeks the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all residents of Ghana by 2030.

It also seeks to have 15% of the national budget committed to the health sector in accordance with the Abuja Declaration, as well as the clearance of all debts owed to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and sustained funding of the authority.

It also calls for the development of a consolidated essential health service package, including the review of the current NHIS benefits package from its focus on curative health service to preventive healthcare.

Furthermore, the Health Manifesto seeks the provision of sexual, reproductive and health rights information and services to all persons, including vulnerable groups such as person living with disability (PWDs).

Programmes

The manifesto also has certain programmes that it wants the next government to implement, such as the raising of taxes of commodities, such as alcohol, tobacco and sugar by 1% as a means of combating the rising numbers in recorded cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This tax, they suggested, should be channelled to the Health Ministry.

The CSOs also want government to develop and implement a national agenda to address stigma and discrimination-related issues through specific health programmes.

They also want government to integrate mental healthcare into the NHIS and maintain already free mental health services on the scheme.

They also want authorities to ensure that the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups have easy access to the NHIS registration process.

The manifesto urges the next administration to strictly enforce laws and regulations on environmental pollution, including noise pollution.

Policy reforms

In the area of policy reform, the CSOs demand that the provision of a coherent Primary Healthcare (PHC) policy that ensures the continuous and sustainable implementation of universal healthcare roadmap toward the attainment of the health-related SDGs.

It also urges the development of a national framework for inter-sectoral collaboration to ensure convergence of ideas and policies aimed at improving the health of Ghanaians.

There was also a call for government to invest in the implementation of policy promoting telemedicine and domiciliary care, especially with the outbreak of infectious diseases.

Finance

In the area of health financing, the manifesto called for investment in the health sector to address issues of infrastructural and development, availability of essential medicines, drugs and vaccines, as well as equipment in all health facilities.

There was also a suggestion for the allocation of 40% of the national health budget is allocated to the health expenditure categories of goods and services and capital expenditure with no more than 60% allocated to compensations. This, they said, should be backed by an act of parliament.

The CSOs also suggested that the MPs’ NHIS fund be diverted to the rechanneled to the health directorates of MMDAs instead.

Finally, they called for the publication of the names of persons prosecuted for misappropriation and misuse of NHIS funds to serve as deterrent.

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