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General News of Saturday, 3 January 2004

Source: GNA

All Ghanaians to be part of NHIS in five years

Accra, Jan 3, GNA - All Ghanaians resident in the country are expected to join the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) within the next five years, Dr Samuel Akor, Director of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Health disclosed on Friday at the 55th Annual New Year School at the University of Ghana, Legon. He said membership of the scheme would be based solely on contribution, adding that, the Legislative Instrument on the NHIS would be finalised by the end of January 2004.

Dr Akor was speaking on the topic, "Increasing Access to Health: The National Health Insurance Scheme," at the School organised by the Institute of Adult Education of the University on the theme, "A Decade of Constitutional Rule in Ghana, Critical issues facing the Nation". Dr Akor said the NHIS would replace the cash-and-carry system as the main source of internally generated funds for healthcare. The scheme would cover services including general referred Out Patient Department (OPD) consultations, requested investigations including emergencies and diseases like tuberculosis, onchocerciasis and buruli ulcer.

He pointed out that cosmetic and aesthetic services are non-essential to the scheme, saying, other exemptions include very expensive medical care such as HIV-retroviral drugs, artificial insemination, hormone replacement therapy, organ transplantation, heart surgery diagnosis and treatments abroad.

These exemptions, he explained, would be catered for by other schemes.

Dr Yaw Oppong, Head of MetCare Metropolitan Insurance Company, described the current state of health service delivery as "mediocre" and called for general improvement in response to medical emergencies, availability of essential drugs and good supervision to make the NHIS a successful.