General News of Tuesday, 24 January 2017
The Health Minister-designate has mounted strong defense of governing New Patriotic Party’s claim that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has ‘collapsed.’
Kwaku Agyemang Manu said the party arrived at the conclusion because of frustration faced by Ghanaians in the accessibility of services provided by the Scheme.
Responding to a question before Parliament’s Appointments Committee, the Dormaa Central Member of Parliament (MP) said the NHIS has been unable to achieve its objectives due to needless political interference.
“The NHIS was to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to our people,” he said, adding anything less than this defeats the purpose.
One of the NPP’s 2016 campaign issues was the state of the NHIS across the country which it argued was collapsed under the immediate past National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who was the NPP’s Presidential Candidate during the election chided former President John Mahama for “incompetently” collapsing programmes he inherited from the previous government.
“I am coming to revive the National Health Insurance Scheme, which ensured that the poor in society gained access to healthcare without the financial burden which used to be associated with healthcare delivery (under the cash and carry regime),” he said on July 10, 2016.
But the former President registered his displeasure with the claim by the NPP, saying more Ghanaians are getting onto the scheme by the day.
“Our political opponents say NHIS has collapsed [but] we have spent more on facilities providing treatment to patients in the country than the NPP did,” he said on August 22, 2016.
The Scheme has a current membership of 11 million made up of Ghanaians and foreign nationals.
Former Deputy Housing Minister, Samson Ahi who questioned the use of the word ‘collapse’ in the NPP’s 2016 manifesto cited the growing number of subscribers as evidence that the Scheme is growing in strength.
But the former Chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the argument that more people are getting onto the scheme therefore it is functioning is misguided.
“NHIS was not established to register members so we don’t assess this as the objective of the NHIS. It is about medication and quality healthcare and not OPD attendance,” he said, adding there is no denying the fact that there are challenges with the Scheme.
He said the only time anyone could conclude that the NHIS is functioning as expected would be when problems of patients are addressed.
“At least there is a presence of it [but] the bottom line is that when people go and [doctors] tell them to buy their own drugs the people will say the thing has collapsed,” he said.
He revealed one of the reasons the President appointed him to head the ministry was to take a “critical look at what we do and find sustainable funding to restructure and transform the health insurance.”
Mr Agyemang Manu, however, admitted that his party’s use of the word “collapse” in its manifesto was “harsh.”