African countries laud Ghana’s health insurance scheme
(Government of Ghana) - THE Managers of Ghana’s National Health Insurance Authority may be racking their brains over issues relating to sustainability, but the scheme remains the toast of many African countries and others around the world. This came to light during a high-powered round table of Africa’s Ministers of Finance and Health held in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, on July 4 and 5, 2012.
A statement issued from the Ministry of Health said the Minister of Health, Mr. Alban S.K Bagbin, who led Ghana’s delegation, told Ghana’s story of the health insurance scheme. He said Ghana’s relative success in guaranteeing free basic health care for her people evolved as a result of many painful years of experimentation with other health financing options; not least the unpopular “cash and carry” regime.
He added, however, that due to a combination of factors, including non-partisanship and consensus building among Ghana’s body politics, a fine balance of several earmarked sources of funding was the foundation upon which Ghana’s health insurance scheme was crafted.
“This is our solution to the sustainability question; this is what has enabled us to continue to meet the basic health needs of not just the gainfully employed, but also the most vulnerable communities in Ghana”, he said.
Mr. Bagbin, who is also the MP for Ndowli West, said in spite of some very real challenges which were indeed typical of health schemes elsewhere in the world, “the success of Ghana’s scheme can be measured by the incredibly high levels of patronage by a subscriber base, which has cumulatively grown in leaps and bounds to around eighteen million ordinary Ghanaians since its early years of implementation”.
In attendance at the two-day-intensive session were parliamentarians, civil society organisations, representatives from the private sector and from bilateral and multilateral development organizations.
In his presentation, the Chief Executive Officer of the NHIA, M R Sylvester Mensah, admitted that “our biggest challenge in continuing to meet the health expectations of our people is the looming funding gap we currently face”.
This development, he said, was occasioned by the large subscriber base, the rampant incidence of malpractice by some accredited providers, and the lack of an efficient monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
He said the NHIA had been engaging with Ghana’s parliamentarians to consider a number of innovations which would guarantee the long-term viability of the scheme, and cited some of these new measures as Capitation, One-time premium, among other interventions.
The statement said in the whole of the continent of Africa, Rwanda was the only other country that operated a fully functioning national health insurance scheme, which provides cover for a good number of her citizens.
The two-day dialogue was convened by the Harmonisation for Health in Africa mechanism (HHA), in collaboration with the African Development Bank (ADB), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Ghana’s delegation included Mr. Mensah, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance; Mr. James Avadzi, a former Minister of Health under the New Patriotic Party’s tenure; Dr. Richard Anane and some officials from the Ministry of Health.