Three basket exporting organisations have paid for 4,000 women basket weavers in selected communities in the Bolgatanga municipality of the Upper East Region to register and renew their National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) membership cards.
The move, which is to enable weavers to access quality healthcare, is being funded by the African Market Baskets, the Oversees Connection of USA and the Paku Enterprise Ghana.
The beneficiary weavers are drawn from Sokabisi, Zorbisi, Sirigu, Zaare, Sumbrungu and Yikene communities where the organisations had for the past 19 years, empowered the people in basket weaving for export to the United States of America.
The three organisations also donated learning materials including books, pencils, pens and erasers to some basic schools in the various communities.
Speaking to the GhanaianTimes after the exercise on Saturday, the President of the African Market Baskets, Mr Steven Karowe, said last year, the organisations also registered and renewed the NHIS membership card of the same number of women basket weavers, including their families.
He said apart from the yearly registration and renewal of cards for the basket weavers and the vulnerable groups in the communities onto the NHIS, the organisations also built weaving centres in some of the communities to train the weavers as well as provide them with ready market.
Mr Karowe said his outfit in partnership with the other two organisations had spent more than $6.2 million dollars to register the people onto the NHIS and also provided educational materials for basic schools and procured and distributed mosquito nets to the selected communities as part of the organisations corporate social responsibility.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Paku Enterprise Ghana, Mr Paul Akurugu, underscored the need for the government to pay special attention to the growth of the basketweaving industry since it had a huge potential of creating employment, reducing poverty and generating foreign exchange for the country.
He proposed that the government could support the basket industry by ensuring that the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) disbursed funding to support the growth of the industry.
The Regional Manager of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Mr Sebastian Alagpulinsa, thanked the three organisations for complementing the efforts of the scheme, and said it would help enhance its work.
The chiefs and people of the beneficiary communities, particularly the women groups, lauded the efforts of the organisations for improving upon the livelihoods of the community members.
The Headmistress of Azaalonge Junior High and Primary School, Mrs Ayishetu Shirazu Asueme, acknowledged the contributions of the organisations to the school, and appealed for more support in the areas of furnishing the school’s library and ICT centre with books and computers.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, SOKABISI