Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country are calling for government to redeem its pledge of spending at least 15 percent of its total national budget on health.
According to the CSOs, the government in April 2001 signed the Abuja declaration to increase funding for health to at least 15 percent. However, recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows a decline in fulfilling the promised expenditure.
The data indicated that since the 2001 Abuja declaration was signed, Ghana has hit the 15 percent benchmark of general expenditure on health twice, meaning that for over a decade, the government has still not honoured its pledge.
“In 2012, the government fell short of meeting this benchmark, spending only 12.5percent of its total budget on health,” a communiqué issued at a consultation of Ghana CSO ahead of the Abuja 12 Heads of State Special Health Summit, noted.
The communiqué adopted by 23 CSOs in health indicated that government cannot achieve the WHO recommendation of spending a minimum of $54 per person in order to attain universal health coverage if it does not meet the 15percent benchmark.
“While Ghana domestic financing for health has improved since the Abuja declaration, there is still an urgent need for actual public expenditure in healthcare and increase efficiency in the use of use such resources,’ it stated.
The communiqué therefore tasked government to make specific commitments at the Abuja declaration so it can alleviate the gap on its spending on health, facilitate the actual release and disbursement of allocated funds and manage identified funding leakages.
It also suggested that government promptly disburse funds budgeted to institutions so that allocated funds can actually be spent by institutions to empower them to perform their duties to the health sector.
In addition, the communiqué cautioned government against increasing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) premium as a ‘quick fix’ to increasing financing which would defeat its essence of social protection programme targeted at the poor.
“Government should instead focus on innovative ways to raise funds and ensure the NHIA strengthens the implementation of the capitation and improves the modalities to reduce over-spending and funding leakages,” it stated.
The statement also called for the NHIA to be depoliticized to ensure its efficient operation as the manager of the insurance scheme and devote funds to improving access to basic emergency obstetric care in rural communities and encourage greater collaborations with civil society organizations working within those communities.
“Greater and efficient healthcare financing is not necessary for honouring the government’s Abuja declaration pledge, but also for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the universal access to basic healthcare,” the communiqué noted.