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Health News of Tuesday, 20 September 2016


NHIS needs new direction – Review Committee

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Review Committee has presented its report to the Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, recommending the establishment of an NHIA commission to oversee the coordination and prioritisation of the authority’s activities.

According to the Chair of the seven-member committee, Dr Chris Atim, the work of the NHIA commission would help address some of the challenges facing the authority and make it more efficient

“Currently, government entities do not get budget support for utility and the committee discovered that by default the institutions are falling on NHIS but NHIS was not designed to pay for those things so there is the need for coordination of these issues,” he said.

Explaining further, Dr Atim stated that with the withdrawal of international donors support for treatment of diseases like HIV, TB, malaria, it was prudent to have a body that would look at the prioritisation of NHIA activities.

“Global Fund and GAVI is drawing down who is going to pay for and if you don’t take care NHIS which were not designed for this because we have the Global Fund paying for this and if they withdraw it will fall on NHIS which already cannot pay its subscription making the situation worse so we need a body that will look at these going forward and anticipate new sources of funding to cater for growing burden of diseases not currently covered under the NHIS.

THE body will also decide on priorities for the scheme in terms of coverage of diseases and ailments in a fair and transparent manner which has societal value and is cost-effective,” he observed.

Dr Atim stated that going forward, the committee has also recommended that the scheme be restricted to a compulsory primary healthcare and maternal and child healthcare provision and suggests that preventive health and actions to slow or arrest the rising burden of non-communicable diseases need to be tackled as public health priorities.

That, according to Dr Atim, would make the scheme more focused and a major vehicle for Universal Health Coverage.

“This redesign will seize the opportunity offered by the government’s ongoing focus on community health planning services (CHPS) zone expansion and reinforcement to redirect public resources and efforts principally towards primary healthcare and maternal and child health with the limited public resources,” he said.

Mr Segbefia, receiving the report, appreciated the committee and their sub-committee members for the work and assured that the ministry would review it and take the necessary steps to implementing the recommendations.

The NHIS has been running a funding gap since 2009, a situation, which, according to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), arose because of design and structural weaknesses of the scheme.

Currently, the NHIS runs a benefit package that experts have described as bloated, inefficient and exclusionary and one which is not sustainable over time.

The scheme, therefore, underwent its first ever comprehensive review since its establishment, and it is expected that the report would provide recommendations that would be able to address the present difficulties of the scheme.

A seven-member committee chaired by Dr Chris Atim, a renowned health economist, led the review process with an advisory committee made up of both local and international experts in health, academia, legislature and civil society.

These include Prof Agyemang Badu Akosa, former Director-General of Ghana Health Service (GHS); Prof Frimpong Boateng, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and former CEO of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital; Prof Plange-Rhule of the College of Physicians and Surgeons; Nuamah Donkor, a past Health Minister; Joseph Yieleh Chireh, MP and former Health Minister; Dr Richard Anane, MP and former Health Minister; Mohammed Muntaka, MP; Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, MP, and 11 others.