Universal health care system is feasible now in Ghana – Group

Government can successfully implement a sustainable universal health care system with the needed political will, commitment and an innovative financing mechanism, Sidua Hor, the Coordinator of the Universal Health Care Campaign has said.

He said a political will and commitment would enable government to legislate for a free, quality and accessible health at the point of use, which could be financed through an expanded tax base and other innovative finance options.

At a day’s workshop in Accra to build capacity of journalists on universal health care, Mr Hor proposed the abolishment of the premium payment under the current National Health Insurance Scheme in order for other tax funded sources to be looked for.

He said the current premium payment under the NHIS contributes only five percent of the total health insurance budget, while the VAT levy alone provides 61.45 percent.

This he explained, makes tax an important and reliable source, hence the Campaign’s advocacy for an expanded tax base for the implementation of a free universal health care in Ghana.

The Universal Health Care Campaign with members like the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) and ISODEC, organised the workshop to upgrade the knowledge base of the media to make them key partners in the campaign.

By 2015, the Campaign members hope to press on Government to implement the universal health care system where Ghanaians can access health services at the point of use without any financial commitment.

“This is possible because other countries like New Zealand, Thailand, Israel, Norway and even Sierra Leone in the West African region, have done it. Ghana can do it too,” he said.

Mr Hor said a free universal health care system would improve effectiveness of the health sector, population health, addresses inequalities, and reduced catastrophic health events and associated payments.

Ghana, he said, had gone through a cash and carry system of health care delivery where user fees are paid, then to a community based health insurance system, and now implementing a national health insurance scheme.

“There are many problems with the current NHIS, and we believe the time has come for the country to move to the fourth level of healthcare system which is the free universal health care.

“To start with, we support the one-time payment of the premium proposed by the National Democratic Congress Government but such a fee must be affordable and people should be able to pay within a period of not more two years,” he said.

Source: GNA

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