NHIS to be revised

Mr. Haruna IddrisuGOVERNMENT is considering revising the National Health Insurance scheme premium to ensure that the scheme remains vibrant and sustainable, the Acting Minister of Health, Haruna Iddrisu has hinted.

This, he said was because the government was concerned with the increasing cost per encounter and the wide range of exemptions which continued to pose challenges to the scheme.

The acting health minister was speaking at this year’s Health Summit organised by the Ministry of Health (MOH), to review the nation’s health sector’s performance for the year 2014.

The five day summit attended by development partners, would discuss the progress and shortfalls in the previous year and map out areas for improvement in the coming year.

It is on the theme: “Working together towards universal health coverage: Accelerating the momentum for attaining health related Millennium Development Goals.”

The minister described the health sector performance for 2014 as mixed, since the sector made progress on several indicators, while a number of its milestones suffered due to challenges in financing health programmes.

Funding for the sector, he said, to him, improved nominally, while the overall expenditure per capita dropped.

“An analysis of budget utilization in 2014, showed an increase in expenditure on clinical care service from the Internally Generated Funds (IGF) and health insurance claims, but less spending on goods and services,” he said.

He said the health sector performance in 2014 showed continued disparity between regions, especially the three Northern regions and attributed that to health workers refusal to accept postings to the rural areas.

Mr. Iddrisu said that the health sector progress for 2014 was highly affected by the Ebola scourge and the high cholera infection rates in the country.

Despite the setbacks, the minister said that Ghana’s disease surveillance systems proved effective during the Ebola scourge and there were indications that more children were surviving as a result of the continuing high immunization coverage, mother to child transmission of Human Immune Virus remained low.

He said the government would soon start rebuilding the burnt Central Medical Stores and provide better systems to improve the medical supply management chain.

Dr, Magda Robalo, the Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), who commented on the theme for the summit, said the Ghana Demographic Health Survey (DHS) gave hope that with a concerted effort, desirable outcomes could be achieved.

She said the DHS indicated that the infant mortality rates, dropped from 50 to 41 per cent per 1,000 live births and child mortality rate declined from 31 to 19 deaths per 1,000 live births whilst less than five mortality decreased from 80 to 60 deaths per 1,000 lives.

She entreated stakeholders to focus on the need for young couples, given the fact that 14 per cent of adolescent aged 15-19 years had started childbearing which ‘we must not be complacent’.

By Linda Aryeetey

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