Contrary to government’s promise to pay the 12 months arrears owed service providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme, only one month’s arrears has been paid, Joy News has learnt.
The amount is just a drop in the ocean of a Ȼ1.2 billion debt owed health providers some of whom have threatened to withdraw their services.
During the 100-day town hall event organized by Joy News, the vice president, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia announced government was going to pay the arrears owed the service providers.
Few days after, the Health Minister Kweku Agyemang Manu in a meeting with the health providers on April 19, 2017 also assured that the 12-month arrears will be cleared within seven days.
In announcing government’s preparedness to pay the arrears he also stated there will be “an injection of good amount of money” to keep the authority vibrant.
“Government is clearly aware of the challenges confronting the health sector,” he stated, adding there will be monthly releases from the Finance Ministry to keep the policy vibrant.
The health providers were cautiously optimistic in the face of the assurances but all that has given way to anger after they realised that only one month out of the 12 months has been paid.
The Executive Secretary of the Christian health association of Ghana, Peter Yeboah told Joy News he is “disappointed shocked and surprised at the turn of events.”
According to him, some of the service providers have not even received the one month arrears said to have been paid.
“…Given that we have waited for 12 solid months and the debts that are being owed to member institutions continue to wreck our system. Our suppliers, Pharmaceutical companies continue to harass hospitals for non-payments of these bills, our banks continue to ask for repayments of debts with interests, our hospitals are being closed by electricity and water companies for non-payment, we think that this piecemeal and token payment from government is highly disappointing,” he added.
He said there had been several promises from various government officials but none of them told them only one month out of the 12 month of arrears would be paid.
Peter Yeboah said given the crisis situation the country finds itself in the health sector there has to be a sense of urgency on the part of government.
“This is an imminent collapse of the Ghanaian health system, it is a collateral damage to our health and livelihood and I would expect that politicians, actors, religious leaders Ghanaians really call the government to order and ask the NHIA to respond to this crisis situation.
“This is unfair, inappropriate immoral, illegal to deprive health facilities for 12 solid months of essential life-saving medicines..” he angrily protested.
An official with the Pharmacy Chamber is equally angry with the turn of events.
Anthony Emeka told Joy News government has signed a social contract with the people of Ghana to provide health care for the citizenry and cannot renege on that.
He would rather at least six months of the arrears is paid rather than the paltry one month arrears.
Checks by Joy News’ Elton John Brobbey indicate that the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has been asked to pay at least four months of the arrears but that will be done in July.
Sources say government is now proposing to clear all the Ȼ1.2 billion in August but with an assurance that the Finance Minister will begin to release funds monthly for the payment under the NHIS.