General News Sat, 10 Jan 2009

NHIS should cover traditional caterers-- Forum

Sunyani, Jan. 10, GNA - The Brong-Ahafo regional branch of the Ghana Traditional Caterers Association on Friday advocated the need to review the National Health Insurance Scheme to cover the yearly mandatory medical test of its members.

The Association noted that the review of the policy would enhance the business of caterers in terms of job creation and income levels which would further translate into higher revenue for the government. Mr. Kingsley Hayford Ababio, regional chairman made the call at a media sensitization forum in Sunyani.

The forum, first of its kind and which is being sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenged Fund (BUSAC) at the cost of GHC 12,000 was on the theme "towards a review of NHIS benefit list". Similar fora will be organised for the 12,000 members of the association at the district level this year. Mr. Ababio said the health of a large size of the nation's workforce was dependent on the healthy meals sold by traditional caterers.

He said it was against this background that the Ministry of Health had put in place a mandatory policy for the caterers to take periodic medical tests especially on communicable diseases so as "not to put the health of consumers at risk".


The Regional President noted with regret that members were losing income as a result of the added cost of paying for the test and any "resulting treatment for themselves and their employees, even though they have registered with the NHIS".

"However the bane of this sector is that, the cost of such tests and that of any possible resultant treatment for the business operatives and their employees are more than the caterers could bear, hence the low compliance of this statutory requirement" Mr. Ababio stressed. The review of the NHIS policy to cover the cost of the test, Mr. Ababio noted would encourage the caterers to register with the NHIS and raise the compliance level of the mandatory tests. Mr. Wiredu Boampong, Chief Executive Officer of Network for Advocacy Development Alternatives, service provider disclosed that a survey by the association had shown that the sector was a job reservoir for a total of 12,000 business operatives and their employees in the region.

"The fact that 80 percent of the business operatives and their employees depended on the sector as their main source of livelihood and who together with their employees cater for over 18,000 dependants in the region, is a clear testimony of the economic importance of the sector", he added.

Mr. Boampong said the two ailments, according to the survey that frequently proved positive in the tests were typhoid fever and tuberculosis adding, "this revelation ties in with the fact that many areas in the region are endemic with typhoid fever in particular". The CEO stressed the importance for all stakeholders to play their part in creating the enabling environment for the private sector business to grow. 10 Jan.

Source: GNA