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Health News Thu, 31 Mar 2011

Health expert calls on government to invest in care delivery

Accra, March 31, GNA - Mr Patrick Apoya, Executive Director of Community Partnerships for Health and Development has called on government to invest in the health of Ghanaians to lay the foundation for a healthy economy.

Addressing a forum on Universal Health Care in Accra, Mr Apoya said government must be committed to remove the requirement of regular premium payments and abolish the cash and carry system to ensure free health care delivery for all by 2015. "This means the government can deliver on its own promise to make health care free for all not just the lucky few at the expense of the many," he said.

Mr Apoya noted that a report presented by Oxfam recently indicated that despite the introduction of the National Health Insurance Authority in the country in 2004, the majority of citizens still pay for their health care in the parallel cash and carry health system.

Quoting the report, he said the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) heavy reliance on tax funding erodes the notion that it could accurately be described as social health and more akin to a tax funded national health care system excluding more than 80 per cent of the population.

"It has therefore described the NHIS design as flawed and unfair because every citizen pays for NHIS but only few populace get to join," he added.

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The report also revealed that NHIS was currently suffering from an inefficient administrative and registration system, cost escalation and high levels of abuse leading to serious questions about its sustainability.

The forum was organised by Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights to advocate free universal health care in Ghana. The initiative also seek to provide pragmatic measures to help in delivering the foundation for a healthy economy into the future that would provide even more resources to improve the health of all Ghanaians.

Mr Apoya explained that free universal health care could be achieved if government was able to increase and sustain its spending to health to a minimum of 14 per cent of total revenue. "Government must aim at spending at least 45 dollars per capita by 2015 with time bounded plan to reach the World Health Organisation recommendation 60 dollars per capita." He encouraged government to implement its aspiration and promise of national health system free at a point of delivery for all. "Every citizen of Ghana should be able to access and use the same range of good quality health services within easy reach of his her home," he said.

He called for immediate publication of all National Health Insurance Authority financial transactions including transfers between the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health and valid membership data to eradicate the high levels of abuse within the system. Mr Apoya urged developmental partners to support the government and civil society efforts to transform health financing to a universal system free at the point of delivery and financed from general revenues and international aid. He therefore called on civil society organisations to come together to hold governments accountable by engaging them in policy development, monitoring health spending and service delivery and exposing corruption.

Source: GNA