The Asantehene Otumfour Osei Tutu II, has called on Government to consider extending the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIA), to cover treatment for life threatening and costly surgeries. The King made the call when he opened the 54th Scientific Conference of the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) underway in Kumasi.
Addressing specialist surgeons and trainees at the three-day conference, he empathized with the vulnerable in society who find it difficult raising funds for some surgical operations, which can only be paid for by very few affluent persons in society.
He said although it was essential that surgeons’ upheld professional ethics, it was crucial that everyone be given equal chance to access surgical operation. Making a strong case for the extension of the health insurance scheme, he noted, “There are surgical procedures which even the middle class in society cannot afford. He enquired, “how many of our country men can afford twelve thousand cedis for procedures in cardiac, orthopedic or gynecologic surgery?”
Elucidating his suggestion he said “In Ghana, the insurance system is yet to cover all surgical procedures though a majority of conditions are covered under the existing scheme. But we need to learn from our challenges and perfect it so we can develop a system that is equitable and just and recognizes that there are vulnerable people in our societies that should be cared for by all.”
The King also called for the training of more surgeons to make up for the inadequacies in the West African sub-region. He advocated for the college to do all in its stride to churn out larger numbers of well trained surgeons while making itself abreast with modern technologies in conducting surgeries.
“We are now in the era of pinhole techniques and robotic surgery. Needless to say, for the vast majority of patients these new techniques are not affordable and the problem can partly be blamed on the scarcity of surgical expertise” he stated
Otumfour Osei Tutu II pledged his commitment to support the college in educating and training surgeons to meet the deficit in surgeons and promised that his palace was always open to any discussions to that effect. In a speech read on his behalf by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Eric Opoku, President John Dramani Mahama urged the leadership to review the conduct of its surgical examination considering the difficult and complicated nature of the examination, which tended to deny many prospective surgeons from pursuing their desired careers.
Only about 20 per cent of those who sit for the examination is said to make it, something that has not been helpful to the sub-region, depriving many communities from enjoying surgical services because of the inadequacy of personnel. President Mahama also suggested to the College to also admit more women for its training.