General News of Saturday, 13 April 2013
Benin’s Health Minister, Professor Dorothee Kinde-Gazard says her country has so much respect for Ghana for instituting a National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Minister, who led an eight-member Beninois delegation to understudy Ghana’s NHIS told journalists at the end of the one-week tour that her ‘team has learnt a lot’ from the knowledge sharing visit.
According to her, she “was particularly impressed about the NHIS Call Centre” and how the whole implementation process of Ghana’s health insurance system was carried out.
Professor Kinde-Gazard said their trip to Ghana was at the behest of their President, Dr Yayi Boni who is encouraged by the strides Ghana has made in financing healthcare delivery for its people.
She revealed that Benin is interested in deepening bilateral relations with Ghana and collaboration between the two countries in helping Benin set up its national health insurance system provides a good opportunity to enhance the already buoyant relationship.
On his part, the Chief Executive of the NHIA, Mr Sylvester Mensah assured the Beninois Health Minister that the NHIA is willing and able to share experiences in areas they may desire in the context of health insurance.
According to him, though Ghana has made significant gains in the area of health insurance, it is worthy to mention a few challenges the NHIS has had.
Mr Mensah mentioned that a “health insurance scheme strives largely on ICT. The ideal situation is to develop your operational dynamics, understand what systems you want to have and as a result, develop an ICT infrastructure and MIS that will fit well into your operations. Anything other than this generates a number of problems including cost.”
This according to the Chief Executive is one of the things the NHIA did not get right at the beginning. He also told the visiting delegation that it is crucial to regularly redefine and review the sustainability period of any social health insurance scheme by “looking potentially at the inflows and outflows and also looking at the benefit package, in this way you will be able to redefine sustainability over a time frame depending on the strength of the economy.”
Mr Mensah used the forum to thank NHIS service providers for their patience over the years and promised them of better times in the future.
The delegation was in Ghana for a week’s tour of the NHIS which began on Monday, April 08, 2013. Benin, a country of nine million people is in its preparatory stages of implementing a national health insurance scheme.
Officials of the NHIA took their Beninois delegation through some major themes including structure of the NHIS, Ghana’s NHIS financing model, membership coverage, risk management, accreditation and quality assurance, how to establish a cogent legal framework for their future health insurance needs, provider payment mechanisms, clinical audit and tariff setting.
They were taken on a tour of the Dangbe West Mutual Health Insurance Scheme. The team also visited a rural health facility and the 37 Military Hospital to see for themselves how card bearing NHIS members accessed heath care.
The delegation also visited some NHIS ICT installations and projects, toured the ultramodern Claims Processing Centre and the NHIS Call Centre.
About 8.6 million of Ghana’s population is covered by the NHIS and in the last few years the scheme has experienced tremendous growth in its membership, infrastructure, and utilization currently stands at 27.4 million.
The delegation’s visit comes at a time the scheme has seen remarkable improvements in its active membership, experiencing increased utilisation and also piloting an additional payment mechanism, capitation. This study tour which came after visits by delegations from Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Cameroun and many other countries, underscores the emergence of the NHIS as a model of healthcare financing for countries in the developing world and beyond.