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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Government to probe NHIS

Health Minister George Sipa Yankey
Health Minister George Sipa Yankey

Health Minister Dr George Sipa Yankey says government would soon probe district Health Insurance Schemes to stump out what he described as “the haemorrhage the system is suffering.”

Dr Yankey said corruption in the administration of the scheme is gradually stalling its smooth operation.

“There is so much corruption, so much pilfering, so much over billing and if all these can stop, we would be able to have enough resources to fund the National Health Insurance Scheme,” he stressed.

The Health Minister was reacting to comments by a former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Badu Akosah, that the one-time premium payment promised by government is not practicable because the system is currently under-funded.

Prof Akosah had insisted that the country’s health system was in bad shape because “the per capita expenditure on health is very poor.”

The former GHS boss compared Ghana’s less-than-$14 per capita budget on health to those of the UK and US which stood at £2000 and $4000 respectively, and said if government goes ahead to implement the one-time health insurance policy it would place the health sector under serious financial strain.

On funding Dr Sipa Yankey insists the scheme has so far been less dependent on premium payments which contribute only 10% to the scheme, stressing, the programme would continue to run with funding from CEPs, VAT and SSNIT.

In the lead up to the 2008 elections the then opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) promised to scrap the annual payments of health insurance premiums and replace it with a one-time premium. Beneficiaries under such a scheme would pay once to enjoy free healthcare for a lifetime.

Since assuming power some eight months ago, the ruling NDC has firmed its campaign promise and insisted Ghanaians would enjoy a health insurance system better than the one introduced by its predecessor.

Dr Yankey said it is government’s intention that “ultimately health becomes free to every Ghanaian,” as is the case in Cuba and other countries.

The Health Minister however says the current administration will have to tackle corruption in the scheme for such a promise to become reality.

“If you check with the district schemes, they don’t account to anybody for it and this is something we are going to deal with. So monies that have been slipping from the scheme, we’re now going to bring it on board,” he said.

Story by Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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