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2020 Budget: Binduri MP Warns of Cash and Carry Return

Hon Dr Robert Kuganab-Lem

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Binduri Constituency, Dr Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, has warned that Ghanaians may return to paying cash for medical care if the government continue to under-resourced the health sector.

According to him, the Akufo Addo government abysmal performance on the health sector for the past three years have left the country health delivery in distress.

Dr Kuganab-Lem gave the warning after he took his turn on the debate of the 2020 budget in parliament on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.

He told THE REPUBLIC, Ghana risked missing the 2030 target of the Universal Health Coverage(UHC) if the health sector continued to be under-distress.

Health officials at a Hospital in Ghana

Dr.Kuganab who is the Deputy Ranking Member on Health Select Committee of Parliament identified poor Human Resources policies and the lack of political will to provide funding support to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), among other as basis of his concerns.

He said the Global Compact on UHC target is to achieve 100 per cent of primary health care by bringing health care closer to the people, especially the poor and vulnerable in society by 2030.

But the dwindling down of funding for public health services under the NHIS is worrying, pointing out that, the sharp reduction of the active population of the NHIS is alarming.

The Binduri lawmaker who is the immediate former Deputy Upper East Regional Minister said, before the National Democratic Congress (NDC) left power in 2016, the active population of NHIS subscribers was at 41%, but it has since fallen to 37% as at October 2019, under the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Currently, the Minority MP said, beneficiaries who access healthcare services with the NHIS card are been turned away at Hospitals either for none availability of medicine or arrears to services providers, among others.

He argued that, “the whole reason why we had the NHIS was to move from cash and carry but once you have the NHIS struggling to pay its service providers, then they have to pay out of the pocket and the trend is that we shall be seeing an increase of that or what we called “Co-funding” because the NHIS is under-resourced.”

NHIS

The NDC, he noted left behind a robust health system to provide quality healthcare to Ghanaians, stressing, “We started the CHPS Compound policies with two CHPS per year at every District and about 240 CHPS compound was expected to be constructed to boost quality healthcare.”

Dr Kuganab said, the public health sector is faced with a huge shortage of staff and reiterated the need for the government to show commitment to ensuring Ghana do not lose the opportunity to achieve universal health coverage.

Early this year, Health insurance service providers have notably complained about arrears owed by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

The Health Insurance Service Providers Association of Ghana threatened to return to the cash and carry system if arrears owed its members by the NHIA were not paid.

The Association said most of its members were owed about 20 months of claims.

This, Dr Kuganab-Lem warned that anything less of ten per cent of access to primary health care is catastrophic and cash and carry system would be returned.

In his view, effective primary health care has been shown to increase efficiency by improving access to preventive and enhance services which help to reduce avoidable hospital admissions and readmissions.

He, however, called on the government to as a matter of necessity prioritized primary health care and commit more funds in the 2020 budget to meet the many challenges such as training and maintaining health care staff, financing, and making medicines affordable and available.
He added that the rapid response team, the numerous health personnel trained under NDC, and several ambulances are lying idle yet many hospitals and institutions are without staff.

Ken Ofori Atta

Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba

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