‘Implement free maternal and child healthcare at all levels’
A Technical Review Committee set up to review the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has suggested to government to implement free maternal and child health package at all levels.
The service can be accessed using any national identification card aside the usual NHI card.
The committee also proposed to government to universally guarantee primary healthcare package for all Ghanaians using the limited resources of the country.
These recommendations were made at the opening session of a two-day Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting of the NHIS under the theme ‘Towards a more Sustainable and Accountable NHIS’.
The Chairman of the Review Committee, Dr Chris Atim, noted that when primary healthcare package for all residents of the country is ensured, possession of the NHI card will no longer be necessary to access healthcare, though identification will still be required.
Dr Atim again appealed to government to empower NHIS beneficiaries and members, and further improve governance of a more accountable and efficiently–run NHIS.
He recounted that a seven-member committee began a first-ever root-and-branch review of the National Health Insurance Scheme, which was targeted at reviewing the scheme to ensure that it is robust enough to cater for the health needs of the country.
He detailed that the nine-month process entailed extensive desk reviews, meetings with individual stakeholder groups and key informants, public fora in the three zones of the country, and fact-finding visits to more regions and districts where there were extensive interactions with facilities and NHIA staff, as well as patients and scheme members.
“In addition to these activities, our review involved setting up seven technical sub-committees, comprised of some of the best and brightest brains of our country, to analyse and advise us on the various thematic areas,” he added.
Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, in his keynote address, stated that health financing is a global issue and often burdens health schemes if not addressed.
He acknowledged the fact that the consultative meeting will elicit a broad range of views that would be used to strengthen the scheme to meet its basic mandate of enabling easy access to healthcare.
“Though financing is an important issue, focus should not be shifted to just getting funds but rather other areas such as improving the quality of healthcare being given to members, among others.
The Vice-President seized the opportunity to charge the authority to come out with innovative ways to address some of the issues the scheme is battling with.
Mr Amissah-Arthur assured the gathering that the government would do its utmost best to forge the scheme into a robust entity that would readily address healthcare issues.
Mr Seth Terkper, Minister of Finance, stated that the health of a population of any country has a significant correlation to the economic development of any country.
“This is the reason health featured prominently in the erstwhile Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); at least three of the eight goals have a direct focus on improving health of the population,” he added.
Mr Terkper noted that for Ghana to have value for its money in investing in the health sector, there is the need to ensure sustainability and accountability, adding that wider and more equitable coverage of health services can be achieved through more effective and efficient application of resources.
Minister of Health, Mr Alex Segbefia noted that the recommendations would be scrutinised properly and a final one forwarded to government for assent.
He stressed that pertinent issues would receive immediate attention.
Mrs Dela Sowah, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, reiterated the need to make the scheme robust to cater for the vulnerable and all other marginalised groups.