President John Dramani Mahama has stated that the choice of Ashanti Region to pilot the capitation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was not meant to discriminate against the people of the region, as is being speculated.
He said the choice was informed by the diversity of the population in the region and its density and, therefore, the likelihood of the pilot scheme yielding findings that would guide future decisions.
President John Mahama stated this in a speech read on his behalf by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Eric Opoku, to open the 54th Conference of the West African College of Surgeons at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi Monday.
Explaining the reason for the explanation, President Mahama said in recent times there had been “uninformed” media discussion of the selection of the Ashanti Region for the implementation of the pilot capitation insurance scheme.
He said currently the government had tasked a team of technocrats and stakeholders to review the available results from the implementation of the pilot scheme and that immediately the recommendations were ready, it would come up with a policy directive on the future of capitation.
President Mahama called for the training of middle-level surgical professionals to augment the work of highly specialised surgeons and suggested that the training of such a cadre must be under the direct supervision of experienced surgeons.
He said the practice of surgical professionals must be regulated to ensure safety of patients, saying surgical professionals would undertake relatively simpler tasks, while surgeons tackled the more challenging ones.
Welcoming the surgeons to the Ashanti Region, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, challenged them to redouble their efforts at churning out more surgeons to alleviate the burden of diseases which required surgery.
He said he wanted to see in the near future the presence of at least five surgeons, of different specialities, in every district hospital in the various nations in West Africa, stating, however, that he was aware that a skilled surgeon was not made overnight.
He said although it took between five and 10 years of training after medical school to train surgeons, he was confident that just as long journeys started somewhere, they could start with the identification of suitable young colleagues, mentor them and pass on the wealth of skills and experience they had gathered over the years.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu assured the surgeons that the doors of the Manhyia Palace were open for discussions that would advance the training of more surgeons.
He said although health insurance in Ghana was yet to cover all surgical procedures, there was the need to learn from other nations to develop a system that was equitable and recognised the vulnerable.