A Senior Lecturer and Vice Dean at the School of Allied Sciences at the University for Development Studies(UDS) in Tamale,Dr. Vida Yakong has described government’s touted achievements on the health sector as “propaganda” that does not represent the realty on the ground.
In a statement issued by Dr. Yakong, she lamented that the poor in society has been exposed to substandard health care delivery while government was involved in peddling untruth to the public especially about the payment of National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS) claims and arrears.
According to the two-time NDC parliamentary aspirant in the Nabdam District of Upper East Region, the politicization of health services in Ghana by President Nana Akufo Addo was dangerous and needed to be avoided.
She therefore impressed upon the public to disregard claims made by President Nana Akufo Addo in the 2020 State of the Nation Address(SONA) and rather brace themselves up to face the realty at the various health facilities.
Below is the statement issued by Dr. Vida Yakong
THE NPP PROPAGANDA ON THE NHIS AND THE FACTS ON THE GROUND
Greetings to patriotic citizens of mother Ghana.
One of the important services in every country is healthcare and mostly conscious efforts made to ensure the delivery of this essential service is not politicized or compromised in any form. It is therefore very worrying that the government of Mr. Akuffo Addo will be playing propaganda with the delivery of healthcare services to the people of Ghana. Ensuring the health security of the citizens is one of the key policies that all governments around the world seek to ensure they accomplish.
In Ghana, the NHIS is the medium through which social security can be provided for citizens, particularly the vulnerable women and children to access and utilize basic healthcare services.
Apparently, the government of Mr. Akuffo Addo has consistently proven to be insensitive to the plight of Ghanaians via healthcare provision in the country.
The payment of NHIS claims to service providers has not only been delayed, but shrouded with unacceptable levels of propaganda from the government. The government has not only failed to pay the outstanding claims in its infamous three years in office but also resorted to peddling falsehood about the payment of claims and the number of Ghanaians who are active members of the NHIS.
It must be clearly stated that the NPP has not fulfilled most of their promises concerning health in general and the NHIs in particular in the 2016 election manifesto of the party. For those who may have forgotten or were not privy to the 2016 manifesto of the NPP, I wish to remind you about the categorical and attractive promises that the NPP made concerning the NHIs.
The NPP promised to increase budgetary allocations to the NHIS, to ensure that religious bodies in the health sector receive their NHIS payments promptly and payments of existing debts expeditiously. The NPP also promised to establish Centers for Cancers and cover the cost under NHIS. Unfortunately, the only intervention by the NPP which concerns the NHIS is the introduction of online renewal of NHIS membership.
Despite this abysmal performance, Mr. Akuffo Addo and his cousin Mr. Ken Ofori Atta have been making conscious attempts to deceive Ghanaians that the government has cleared outstanding debts owed to NHIS service providers including the religious bodies whom they categorically promised prompt payments in their manifesto.
In the 2020 budget submitted to parliament, the finance minister Ken Ofori Atta, stated that NHIS debts were cleared and this was repeated by the president in his State of the Nation Address. The facts on the ground, however, show that the government has not settled the claims owed to religious and private healthcare institutions since February 2019 and some are being owed 2018 areas.
The public healthcare institutions are owed by the government between 30 to 40 months of NHIS arears. While the private and religious health providers are able to voice out their grievances, public healthcare providers are quiet because they are under the control of the government.
Before the president went to deliver the state of the nation address to parliament, the Association of Private Healthcare Facilities in Ghana (PHFAoG) threatened to withdraw their services by the 16th of December 2019 if their outstanding debts of 9 to 10 months were not paid by the government. The government has since not settled these claims.
One shocking revelation by the PHFAoG was the 45% to 70% price increase on imported medicines by wholesalers/suppliers due to the removal of 17.5% VAT and 30% price cut on medicine tariffs sanctioned by the NHIA and effected on the 1st of July, 2018, which the PHFAoG considered as miscalculated. The facilities threatened to initiate a full scale “CASH AND CARRY” on the 16th of December, 2019 if payment of their outstanding claims is not effected.
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) recently released a statement asking the government to settle arrears owed by the NHIS to private healthcare providers under the scheme. These exposed the dishonesty and insensitive nature of the government to the health of Ghanaian citizens.
Nana Akuffo Addo also alleged that the number of active members of NHIS went up from 10.6 million in 2016 to 12.3 million at the end of 2019. This statement by the president is very doubtful because there is no recent report detailing the membership status of the NHIS. It is therefore questionable that the president is releasing such figures.
The global health security report published in October 2019 showed that only 35.5% of Ghanaians had health security. In addition, the Holistic Assessment of 2017 Health Sector Programme of Work published in July 2018 showed that 35.3% of Ghanaians were active members of the NHIS. This showed a drop of 3.1% compared with 2016 when it was 38.4%. I will be curious to find out how the president Nana Akuffo Addo obtained his figures.
Using the Holistic Assessment of 2017 Health Sector Programme of Work survey which is the most recent in Ghana, it can be computed that 35.3% of 30,000,000 is 10,590,000 which is far less than the 12.3 million reported by the president. This also illustrates the significant drop in active membership. Why is the president peddling falsehood about an important policy as the NHIS?
The Chamber of Pharmacy Ghana has also taken a decision not to supply medicines on credit to NHIS accredited health facilities due to the huge debts owed to them by these institutions. In a news report on citinewsroom, the chamber stated that it will not rescind its decision until service providers pay their debts in full.
It is high time that Ghanaians began to hold the NPP government accountable for some of the distorted data they present to the citizens, especially on policies that have a direct bearing on health and welfare.
President Nana Akuffo Addo and his appointees seem to be earning their reputation by presenting half-baked and factually incorrect data to portray a positive picture of a government that is crumbling on its knees. Any statement coming from the government concerning the NHIS should, therefore, be taken with a pinch of salt.
I am deeply worried about the poor who cannot afford the cost of care under a renewed cash and carry system; I am worried about rural women and children who are the most vulnerable economically and socially; I am worried about people with chronic disease conditions who need frequent care with increasing cost, and I am worried for the elderly and retirees who have limited income and could have benefited from NHIS if Ghana had a viable NHIS to relieve them of their financial burdens and prolong their lives.
For those of us who feel we are not affected at this present moment, we should not forget that we live in a global village! Ghanaians must be worried and the need to speak up is critical for our wellbeing. Mother Ghana is deeply worried!
Victory 2020 is possible together.