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General News
NHIS sets target at 55% coverage in 2007 1/20/2007
General News of Saturday, 20 January 2007

NHIS sets target at 55% coverage in 2007
Takoradi, Jan. 20, GNA - All bottlenecks in healthcare delivery had been removed to ensure that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) obtains 55 per cent nationwide coverage as its target for 2007. Mr. Samuel Owusu-Agyei, the Deputy Minister of Health, said the scheme "has come to stay" and every effort must be made to ensure its sustainability.

He was addressing the closing session of the two-day annual peer review conference of the Ghana Network of Mutual Health Organisations (GNEMHO) in Takoradi on Friday.

Representatives of the various health insurance schemes in the country, health providers, consultants, the Ministry of Health among others attended the conference, which was organised in collaboration with DANIDA and the government.

It brought together major stakeholders in the scheme to assess progress so far made and discuss strategies to improve performance in the sector.

The Deputy Minister explained that the target of 50 per cent coverage set for the NHIS in 2006 could not be obtained because "it was too ambitious" and that only 30 per cent of the 2006 target was realised.

Mr. Owusu-Agyei said vehicles and other logistics have started arriving in the country for distribution to the various schemes to enhance their operations.

He pledged the government''s commitment to remove all barriers to access to healthcare delivery, and said the successful implementation of the scheme depended largely on the activities of stakeholders. Mr Owusu-Agyei also called for effective monitoring system to ensure that funds disbursed were used for their intended purposes.

Mr. Owusu-Agyei called for concerted efforts to overcome challenges militating against the smooth implementation of the scheme. He mentioned poor working relationship between some providers and schemes, delays in the processing of cards and difficulties card bearing members face with service providers as some of the challenges facing the scheme.

"The Ministry expects you to collaborate with service providers and schemes to collectively work to overcome the challenges that are gravely affecting the success of the scheme", Mr Owusu-Agyei said. Mr. Frank Adu, the Chairman of the National Health Insurance Council, said in an address read for him that there must be closer cooperation among stakeholders for effective sensitisation of the people to enhance membership drive.

He said the focus of the council was to consolidate gains made so far, sustaining the momentum, as well as establishing structures for monitoring and facilitating all the procedures involved. To this end, Mr. Adu said the Council would establish zone offices throughout the country to bring its functions closer to the stakeholders.

Accreditation of service providers would begin this year and evaluation tools have been developed and surveyors appointed.

Mr. Anthony Evans Amoah, Western Regional Minister said the NHIS was one of the most pragmatic policies instituted by the government to improve health service delivery for poverty reduction. He noted with concern the low registration levels since the introduction of the scheme about three years ago and attributed this to low levels of sensitisation and general poverty among the people.

Mr. John Ekwan Pratt, the President of GNEMHO, said GNEMHO would continue to support measures to promote the activities of both private and public health insurance schemes.

He suggested that health insurance should be made a subject to be taught not only in health training institutions but also in schools and tertiary institutions.

Mr. Pratt said this would help to change the negative attitude towards the scheme and enhance its successful implementation. He said allegations of malpractices in the scheme were being investigated and culprits would be sanctioned. 20 Jan 07


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