General News of Sunday, 13 August 2017
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the finances of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) are being sorted out in order to improve access to quality healthcare, as well as ensure that health workers are unencumbered and free to do their work.
Reiterating his determination to solve the problem of unpaid bills to healthcare providers, President Akufo-Addo noted that the NHIS is at the core of the country’s health delivery system, and government has a duty to make it work.
“So far, government has, by dint of prudent management within the short space of seven months, cleared GH¢560 million out of the GH¢1.2 billion of debt inherited.
“I am told I can confidently say that we will settle all the arrears within the next 12 months. This year, we are up to date on the payment of claims to service providers. It is essential that the businesses of healthcare providers do not collapse,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Saturday, 12th August, 2017, when he delivered a speech at the 50th congregation and 5th oath taking and induction ceremony of the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Cape Coast.
With the major burden of healthcare in Ghana coming from diseases that are preventable, President Akufo-Addo noted that these are better dealt with at source and in the communities, rather than to wait until they become problems at the hospital level.
“It requires better sanitation, and not better medication, to deal with cholera, which seems to have reared its ugly head again in our country, especially since 2014. I hope that such programs, as you have instituted here, would position the students to play good advocacy roles as healthcare providers within the communities they work in after their studies,” he said.
Outlining the problems that bedevil the health sector, such as the challenge of bridging the equity gap in access to healthcare between urban and rural Ghana, the production and distribution of health personnel, and high under-five and maternal mortality rates, President Akufo-Addo noted that some of the answers lie in improving the physical infrastructure of the health sector.
His government, the President assured, will strive to complete ongoing projects around the country, as well as expand health promotion programs, scale up disease prevention strategies and enhance access to curative and emergency services.
On the BOT arrangement being entered into with a Canadian group to build infrastructure at the University, President Akufo-Addo noted that such initiatives are admirable and are to be expected from a University, whose Chancellor is one of the most renowned entrepreneurs of Ghana’s generation.
“I hasten, however, to add a word of caution. I think we should learn, from previous and unfortunate bitter experience, that such arrangements should not be done on the blind side of government. I will strongly urge if you have already not done so, that you seek the blessing of the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Attorney-General to the arrangement,” the President said.
He continued, “There is currently a difficult situation at the University of Ghana that should serve as a useful lesson for all public tertiary institutions, which seek to engage in such arrangements.”
The government, President Akufo-Addo indicated, will continue to make capital outlays in the health sector, and has begun to undertake a number of healthcare projects across the country to bring the provision of healthcare delivery to the doorsteps of the people.
All these projects, he added, are geared towards expanding health facilities in the country, and creating ready job opportunities for students in health disciplines in the country.
“We have a duty to ensure that this School is well-equipped to produce capable medical doctors with all the skills needed to improve the quality of medical practice in our country. It is my expectation and hopes that graduates from this School will be motivated to take on the challenge and the opportunities for higher achievement through innovation and creativity, in the science and technology-led, knowledge-driven global economy,” the President said.