MP for Binduri questions Govt Commitment to NHIS Funding

Hon Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, Member of parliament for Binduri in the Upper East Region has called on government to depoliticized the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and ensure adequate funding to provide quality healthcare to Ghanaians.
According to the MP, who is also the Deputy Ranking Member on Health Committee of parliament, the numerous implementation challenges that bedeviled  the scheme could be reduce if the policies are without political colorization.
Hon Kuganab-Lem, a medical doctor by profession made these remarks when he delivered a statement on the floor of parliament in Accra last Thursday.
Prior to the 2016 general election, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by its then flag-bearer Nana Akufo Addo, castigated the then incumbent NDC government for doing little to fund the scheme to function to meet its objectives.
The NPP promised to provide adequate funding and ensure that the scheme operate without financial constraints to deliver quality healthcare to Ghanaians, especially the vulnerable.
But have since not been materialized going into two years of the current government that accused the previous government of collapsing the scheme.
However, making a personal statement on the theme, “Universal Health Coverage, a Constitutional Imperative,” the Binduri MP observed that, the continue politicization of the scheme is affecting its policy implementation to the fullest and called for an end to the status quo.
“Mr. Speaker, the Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was instituted to resolve the issue of funding when it comes to accessing primary healthcare of which was expected to improve accessibility to healthcare by all and not only the wealthiest.”
“The policy was to allow Ghanaian citizens make financial contributions through VAT into the health fund so that in the event of illness these contributors could be supported by the fund to receive health care, however, the implementation of the policy has experienced several challenges which includes the discrimination faced by persons attending medical centres on the NHIS ticket, abuse and exploitation through the sales of drugs to patients under the scheme and recently inability of the scheme to register new members and renew the registration of members,” he said.
Mr. Kuganab-Lem contended that, for the scheme to function effectively and efficiently, we should as a country depoliticise the implementation of its policy.
He argued that the World Health Organization (WHO), has requested that all nations devote 5% of their GDP to fund healthcare and if that is implemented, it would ensure free and accessible primary health care in the country.
The Binduri lawmaker further cited  the constitution of Ghana as having authoritatively established the right of every Ghanaian to enjoy good health, but Ghanaians still could not access good healthcare.
“It is the right of every Ghanaian to have access to quality health services without financial hindrances whether rich or poor, young or old, in the rural or urban. In achieving an inclusive and sustainable development, the ability of a country to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being for all is critical as indicated in the Sustainable Development Goal 3,” Mr Kuganab-Lem asserted.
He further pointed that, health organisations of every well developed country is built on having trained and motivated health work force, a well-maintained infrastructure, and a reliable supply of medicines and technologies, backed by adequate funding, strong health plans and evidence-based policies.
Specifically, he said, it was for this reason that the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) under the WHO was promulgated to ensure that all people have access to promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, “while also ensuring that people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services”.
The Minority MP in his statement said, for the country to achieve the level of socio-economic development as we desires, it was imperative to view the attainment of universal health coverage as a priority and a major goal for reformation in the health sector.
This, he said was also important for government to take a second look to the distribution of medical professionals in the health sector across the country, nothing that, geographical disparity in the distribution of limited medical professional in the country remained a hindrance to quality healthcare delivery.
“Mr. Speaker, in a research conducted by send-Ghana to access the client satisfaction with service delivery, it was revealed that in 2014 and 2015, over 1000 doctors accepted posting to Greater Accra as compared to less than 50 in the Upper East region.”
“In spite of the population variance, each doctor took care of fewer patients in the Greater Accra region than the three regions in the north. In 2016, most doctor posted to the northern regions refused posting and in 2017, none took up the position.
He said available statistics indicated that Ghana is below the WHO recommendation of 1:1,320 doctor-to-patient ratio, as medical doctor-to-patient ratio stood at 1:9,043 and 1:739 for nurses-to-patient.
He cited poor accommodation for doctors and their families, poor medical infrastructures and lack of amenities such as good schools for health professional children and good roads for safe transportation as most of the common hindrance to doctors  accepting posting to deprived areas in the country.
The Binduri MP therefore expressed the view that, it would be prudent for professionals who accept posting to remote areas are motivated with incentives including allowances for children care in other regions of their choice, allocated with vehicles that are fuelled for easy movement across the region, decent housing facilities for their families, among others.

The statement was also used to thanked the Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Oquaye and the Parliamentary Service for the immense intervention and assistance offered him when he was taken ill, while attending a health conference at Tokyo, Japan, December last year.

He further expressed grateful to the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, who also found time to visit him in Japan as well as staff of the Ghana Embassy in that country.
Mr Kuganab-lem also expressed his appreciation to the Minister for Roads and Highways, Hon Kwasi Amoako-Attah, for taking time off his busy schedule to visit him in Japan while on an official visit. Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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