The 37 Military Hospital is receiving and treating beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Scheme NHIS, contrary to reports that the health facility was turning away subscribers of the scheme.
A message announcing the hospital’s decision not to attend to NHIS subscribers made rounds on social media platform WhatsApp few days ago and subsequently found its way into traditional media, as some of them circulated the hoax.
It is unclear who created the message and what the motive was. But during a visit by a team of journalists to the facility on Wednesday, it turned out that the information was inaccurate, as several NHIS subscribers had queued to verify their details at the NHIS office situated on the Hospital’s promises.
An employee at the Front Desk of the records section of the hospital where NHIS members are verified, Kenneth Cudjoe, told citifmonline.com that the reports were false, adding that several beneficiaries of the scheme go on to seek medical care after their details are verified.
According to him, majority of the beneficiaries who visit the facility were pregnant women and children.
Addressing the media, Colonel Eric Aggrey-Quarshie, Director of Public Relations (PR) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), said the reports about them turning away NHIS card holders was completely false and a hoax. He asked the public to disregard any such reports and visit the hospital with their NHIS cards for care.
According to him, if for any reason at all such a decision was to be taken, it would have been communicated in a more appropriate manner.
He asked Ghanaians to ignore the message saying the Hospital was open to NHIS beneficiaries, who constitute more than 50% of the patients treated at the facility.
“That information was a hoax so anyone who’s referred to 37 on the account of NHIS should feel free to visit the facility. We won’t waste our time to investigate the source of that message. It’s of no use to us since it is not true and everything is going on well here”, Colonel Aggrey-Quarshie said.
During a visit to the hospital’s Polyclinic Department, several women, who are NHIS beneficiaries were seen seated to be attended to. A Senior Nursing Officer there told journalists that the department alone treats about 250 patients a day and that more than 50% of those treated are NHIS beneficiaries.
Deputy Director of Communications at the NHIA, Selorm Adonoo, said he was pleased the media visited the facility to ascertain the truth for themselves.
He said a notice flying on social media without any indication of its source and authority shouldn’t have been taken seriously and given the attention it received, because right from the onset the authenticity of such information should have been questioned.
According to him, anybody could have crafted a message and circulated it on social media to deceive and cause public disaffection for an institution.
NHIS referral procedures
Colonel Eric Aggrey-Quarshie clarified a Ministry of Health policy on referral procedures.
He said the referral system also known as gate keeper system being run by the Ministry of Health, requires that huge and specialist health facilities such as the 37 Military Hospital, Korle-bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospitals concentrate on more emergency and specialist cases. This means patients in some cases are only treated when they are referred from their primary healthcare providers.
He explained however that, people who were asked to go back to their primary health providers to seek referrals before they could be treated at the Military Hospital, should not misconstrue that process to mean that the Hospital was turning them away.
Under the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), service providers are grouped into primary, secondary and tertiary categories.
This categorization according to Selorm Adonoo is meant to free up the major health facilities to attend to more critical and specialist cases which cannot be treated at primary healthcare facilities.
By: Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie/citifmonline.com/Ghana