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502% of people in Northern Region register with National Health Insurance

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Membership of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the Northern Region had grown sharply from 143,460 in 2005 to 863,099 in 2008, representing 502 per cent increment.

The figures indicate a significant growth of the scheme though membership is less than half of the total population of the region, which was estimated at 2,228,670 during the period under review.

SEND-Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) made this known in Tamale on Tuesday, during a regional interface meeting on the NHIS, which was attended by stakeholders of the scheme including the Regional Health Directorate.

The findings was part of a survey conducted by the NGO on the operations of the in four regions in 44 districts covering 2004-2008 and raised a number of key issues regarding the implementation of the policy.

The regions were; Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.

Mr Titus Segtub, Field Officer of SEND-Ghana said not all subscribers of the NHIS were able to access health services after completing the recommended waiting period due to delays in issuance of identification cards.

He said most card bearing members of 18 years and below dominated the list.

Mr Segtub noted that financial access which the NHIS was supposed to provide was enhanced while access to healthcare services was still a challenge saying: “More than three quarters of accredited healthcare facilities perceived the NHIS to have negative effect on quality healthcare delivery.”

He said there was preferential treatment to non-card bearing members of the scheme during healthcare delivery, which put the card-bearers at a disadvantaged.

He recommended the de-politicisation of the scheme and the development of innovations to improve it.

Mr Rashid Tanko, Regional Manager of the NHIS said the scheme had since 2009, made tremendous progress, which include the introduction of clinical audit systems aimed at eliminating fraud in the operations of the scheme to ensure sustainability.

He observed that the NHIS is a pro-poor scheme as well as a social intervention policy introduced to address the healthcare of the people.

Mr Tanko said all the 145 mutual schemes currently in operation, would soon be brought under one scheme through the amendment of the NHIS Act.

Mr Leslie Nii Otu Vanderpuije, Regional Pharmacist, called for the computerisation of data at all health institutions, since the current manual system was a contributing factor to the undue delays of patients at the health facilities.

He said inadequate personnel at health centres was seriously affecting quality healthcare delivery saying: “Until we are able to increase health personnel, quality healthcare cannot be achieved.”

Mr Vanderpuije however observed that patients are gradually getting access to healthcare institutions due to increased provisions of facilities despite the lack of medical personnel.

Source: GNA

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