Dr Edward Nasigiri Mahama, Leader of the Peoples National Convention (PNC), on Thursday called for a national body spearheaded by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, to review Ghana’s health delivery system.
He said the body “should be given a mandate to look at the totality of health care delivery in Ghana now and into the future,” adding the future health financing reforms that would ensure sustainability of the system for the next 50 years.
Dr Mahama was speaking at a forum on the Universal Access for Free and Quality Health Care in Ghana organized by the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Ghana, Accra City Campus.
The forum, which attracted representatives from Civil Society Organisations, the Disable Society of Ghana and the Ministry of Health, was to discuss the challenges of the universal access to free and quality health care in Ghana.
Dr Mahama said the composition of the proposed body should include representatives from the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Ghana Medical Association, the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and other Civil Society Organisations.
He said key areas to be looked at areas should include Government-Private Partnership that would reduce direct costs to government and facilitate by legislation the financing and establishment of private hospitals to make universal access possible.
Dr Mahama said the issue of liability of health care providers and compensation to victims of unintended or negligent injury during delivery of health care as well as herbal medicine and herbal practitioners should also be integrated into the universal access plan of the nation.
He said tasking a national body to undertake such programmes helped the nation to achieve specific objectives and discouraged political parties that formed subsequent governments from abandoning what was started by the previous government.
Mr Patrick Apoya, a Consultant from Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), charged the Government of Ghana to go ahead with the implementation of the one-time national health insurance policy that they promised to the people.
He said they should commit themselves to a clear plan to remove the requirement for the annual premium payment and to abolish the parallel cash and carry system, which still exists, by 2015.
Mr Apoya cautioned the government against the proposed introduction of a two tier National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for the country.
He said such a move was likely to create a class system and would not ensure equity in the health delivery system.
Mr Apoya also said the current coverage of the NHIS had been hugely exaggerated and that the actual coverage could be as low as 18 per cent.
He said data from the Ministry of Health indicates that the national Health Insurance Authority was among one of the state institutions that lacked transparency in its operations.
Mr Daniel Degbetsi, a representative from the MOH, said no matter the health care system adopted by a country, someone must pay for the health care either directly or indirectly.
He said whatever system that Ghana adopted there must be equity in access geographically and financially.
He explained that health care financing was related to an individual’s ability to pay. For instance individuals with different ability to pay could pay commensurate with their income for heath care.
Mr Degbetsi said some of the most important factors that impacted on health care were outside the realm of the health sector.
He said policies likely to impact on health needed to be coordinated and regularly evaluated in terms of their impact on health inequalities.
He said there was the need to build capacities and develop systems of health institutions to enable them detects changing patterns of access and health outcomes.