The cost associated with the treatment of some childhood cancers and family planning will be covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
This will take effect from January 2022 when the scheme would be a year away from its 20th anniversary.
The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo announced this when she launched the NHIS week in Accra on Monday on the theme: “NHIS: Using the Ghana Card for Expanded Health Service.”
The inclusion of four childhood cancers which included, Burkitt Lymphoma, Retinoblastoma, Wilm’s tumour and Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia under the NHIS, she said, would bring hope to children and their families as far as easing the burden of financing of treatment was concerned.
Inclusion of family planning, she said would help improve maternal and child mortality outcomes.
“As I understand, these(cancers) constitute about 60 per cent of childhood cancers seen in Ghana. Indeed, this is a major intervention in the fight against childhood cancers.
“Certainly, our children deserve to live long productive lives to enable them to compete successfully with other children in the world,” she said.
She called for a comprehensive education on childhood cancers among vulnerable groups and stakeholders to create awareness of the need for early detection to increase the chances of survival for children.
She also highlighted the need for some interventions that include the setting up of centres for terminal patients, equipping research institutions to improve capacity to treat and cure cancers and the education on avoidable cancer risk factors, such as environmental carcinogens, tobacco and alcohol.
“I am also excited that Cape Coast, Tamale, and Ho Teaching Hospitals, will be providing oncology services. This brings the treatment of cancer closer to home for more Ghanaians,” she added.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Lydia Dsane-Selby, encouraged health care providers seeking to establish new facilities to situate them in underserved areas to improve access to health services for all.
“Recent facility mapping exercises conducted by the authority have highlighted the unfair distribution of health care services across the country. We see a polarisation of services towards regional and district capitals at the expense of many deprived areas” she said.
A Paediatric Cancer Expert at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency(GNA), said the decision to include some childhood cancers was long overdue as the lives of many could have been saved had the intervention been rolled out early.
He called for the activation of a national cancer registry to enable policy decisions and planning.
The registry, he said, would provide adequate data for research and help monitor the condition of cancers patients.
“What we do now are hospital-based registries and not exactly what we want because it does not tell us about the general population,” he said.