Health News of 2014-06-19

Respect NHIS subscribers - Sherry Ayittey

The outgoing Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Hanny Ayittey, has called on healthcare providers to treat National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) subscribers with dignity and respect.

She said reports of verbal abuse of subscribers by healthcare providers, undue delay in attending to clients, as well as charging and collecting unauthorised fees from NHIS subscribers, affected the credibility of the scheme.

She noted that the NHIS is a national asset that must be protected and supported by all.

Ms Ayittey, who was addressing the press when the Ministry of Health took its turn at the meet-the-press series in Accra, said the sale of medicines to patients with the excuse that they were not included in the NHIS medicines list also hurt the confidence of subscribers in the scheme.

Health financing

“The NHIS, undoubtedly, is the most successful health financing strategy we as a country have crafted for ourselves. Indeed, it was fashioned out of need, a home-grown and home-financed and the work and prospects of the NHIS demonstrate what we can do as Ghanaians when we apply ourselves to finding home-grown solutions to our needs,” she said.

She indicated that the scheme had seen far-reaching reforms over the last few years, geared towards protecting and ensuring its sustainability, and, therefore, called on all Ghanaians to stand behind the scheme and contribute towards its success.

Efficient operations

Ms Ayittey mentioned capitation, electronic processing of claim, instant issuance of biometric ID cards and the establishment of claims-processing centres in four zones of the country as some of the measures the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) had put in place to ensure efficient operations.

On capitation, the outgoing minister pointed out that it was one of the payment methods currently being incrementally implemented across the country and one that presented the NHIS with the most efficient means of reaching universal health coverage.

Capitation

Ms Ayittey acknowledged that although the introduction of that payment method generated some disquiet, the ministry listened to divergent views from stakeholder groups to fine-tune the package.

“The government took the view that it was not unusual for such resistance to herald any new system that sought to change our ways of doing things but considered the merits of the debate and went ahead to make necessary modifications to the programme to ensure wider buy-in,” she stated.

She also said that the NHIA was ready to extend the instant issuance of ID cards based on biometric data to the Ashanti Region before the end of June.

Biometric equipment

According to her, “all necessary installations of biometric equipment have been made at the registration centres and implementation will kick off before the end of June”.

She said the biometric system had so far been rolled out in the Central, Eastern and Greater Accra regions, noting that the system, among other things, guaranteed the instant issuance of ID cards to subscribers.

Pharmacy Council

Ms Ayittey called on the Pharmacy Council to crack the whip on mushroom pharmacy stores that were spreading all over the country.

She said some of the shops operated without permits or qualified pharmacists contrary to the law regulating the operations of pharmacy shops and the sale of drugs in the country.