Health Insurance beneficiaries better off – Research
Beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) have better access to the health care delivery system and are less likely to experience infant and maternal deaths, a global research has revealed.
The research, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, was organised by Global Development Network, a research organisation, to evaluate health interventions in developing countries.
The project seeks to identify some health related programmes from countries like Ghana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda and Thailand and to discuss research findings with policy makers and health researchers in order to replicate identified innovative health related programmes from such countries to other regions.
Speaking at a workshop on Tuesday to discuss the findings in Accra, Prof. Joseph Mensah, a Lecturer at the York University, Toronto, Canada, said the NHIS was removing financial barriers that hindered many Ghanaians from seeking health care.
“I see the scheme as a positive step that Ghana has taken towards accomplishing its health targets for the Millennium Development Goals,” he added and urged other African countries to emulate.
He expressed optimism that although the scheme is besieged with some challenges, with proper planning and collaboration on the part of policy makers and stakeholders, the challenges could be addressed.
Prof. Joseph Oppong, the Interim Associate Dean for Research and Professional Development of the University of North Texas, USA, expressed dissatisfaction that the NHIS addressed only the financial aspect of the numerous challenges facing many Ghanaians seeking health care.
“It is not tackling the issue of equitable geographic distribution of health facilities across the country. It is sad that health centres are more located at urban areas than the rural areas, where many have to walk long distances before they can access community health facility,” he said.
Prof Oppong said the NHIS needed to address the issue of quality health delivery system, as well as availability of health care personnel in the wake of brain drain prevalent in the country.
Dr Daniel Kertesz, WHO Country Representative, said the best way to strengthen a nation’s health system was to improve its mechanisms for health financing and added that “Ghana has shown the way as pioneers and needs to improve the scheme.”