NHIS best alternative to cash-and-carry system – GMA

stethoscopeDr Kwabena Opoku Adusei, President of Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on Monday observed that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is the best alternative to the cash-and-carry system.

“I want to say that the NHIS is still the best alternative to health care provision for especially the poor. I have been a witness to the cash-and-carry system, “he said.

Speaking at the opening of a two day conference to climax activities carried out to mark the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the NHIS in Ghana, Dr Opoku Adusei said everything must be done to ensure that all parties, including providers, subscribers and managers of the scheme are dealt fairly with, to the sustainability of the scheme.

The international conference being attended by people from Africa, Europe and America is to help take stock, and exchange knowledge and experiences of countries that are operating such health schemes.

The theme for the anniversary celebrations is: “Towards Universal Health Coverage: Increasing Enrolment whilst Ensuring Sustainability.”

Activities lined-up for the anniversary included nationwide inter schools competition on health and NHIS, staff durbars, lectures and media interaction programmes.

Mr Sylvester A. Mensah, Chief Executive Officer, National Health Insurance Authority, (NHIA) said the scheme established in 2003 by an Act of Parliament 650 had been replaced with Act 852 of 2012 that had enabled it to undergo various reforms to consolidate the gains of NHIS.

He said various administrative bottlenecks had also been removed to make way for more effective governance of the schemes and provided impetus for on-going reforms.

Mr Mensah said funding sources for the scheme still continue to be 2.5 per cent of Value Added Tax and 2.5 per cent of Social Security and National Insurance Trust contributions as well as contributions from the informal sector.

Currently close to 20 million people had registered with the scheme but about nine million people are actively using the scheme.

Mr Mensah said challenges of the scheme include financial sustainability, difficulty in identifying the poor, ICT challenges, high cost of medicines, quality of care and the ability to pay subscription fees.

Therefore various ways like increment of the NHIS levy, and levy on Tobacco and Petrochemical industry are being explored to address some of the financial challenges, he said.

He announced that a health Insurance Institute is to be established to serve as a hub of building on the fortunes of NHIS and sharing of ideas with counterparts from other countries.

Mr Edward Doe-Adjaho, Speaker of Parliament who was also a former Chairman of the NHIA Board said Parliament takes the issue of health as very important since it affects most people and has therefore passed seven major health bills with two on health insurance.

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Health, said since health systems had become a complex issue, there is therefore the need for the country to work towards more efficient partnerships for health.

She said country-owned national strategic health plan that identify local priorities and high impact cost effective investments should form the basis for investment.

“We (Ghana) are convinced and committed to do one outmost to position health and well-being as an important dimension and outcome of sustainable development, to enable people to survive and live healthy lives.”

Dr Steve Ahiadorwor, Member of the NHIA Board said the implementation of the NHIS had presented numerous opportunities in heath care and also become a major catalyst for ICT with the introduction of E-claims.

Source: GNA

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