The Medical Superintendent of the Tamale Central Hospital, Dr Mahamudu Mbiniwaya, has asked for support saying that the hospital was “on its knee” because of financial challenges.
He said the hospital owes the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in 13 months’ arrears and its internally generated funds were inadequate to procure drugs and other consumables, hence affecting quality healthcare for people in the metropolis.
Speaking to The Ghanaian Times in Accra, the medical superintendent said the outstanding claims were for the months of July 2014, May and August 2015, and January, March, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December 2016.
Dr Mbiniwaya, therefore, appealed to the government to take a critical look at the NHIS to make it more efficient in the payment of claims, in order for healthcare providers to respond to the needs of the patients with quality healthcare delivery.
The medical superintendent said he had been receiving lot of calls from the hospital’s creditors with some of them threatening court actions, “this gives me a lot of worries and diverts my attention from attending to patients”.
Dr Mbiniwaya said apart from its indebtedness to the pharmaceutical companies, the hospital was also indebted to the tune of 30,000 in fuel consumption and cost of maintenance of fleet of vehicles.
He said about 90 per cent of Out Patient Department at the hospital were hooked to the NHIS, explaining that the revenue generated from the 10 per cent who were not under the NHIS was not enough to run the hospital in terms of purchase of essential drugs and other consumables.
Dr Mbiniwaya claimed that the delay in re-imbursement from the NHIS had made some unscrupulous health personnel to resort to corrupt practices by selling drugs, which were not available because of non-payment of claims,to patients at exorbitant prices.
He mentioned some of the drugs as Cytotec and Oxytocim, which are mainly used in maternal health care, adding that the drugs were supposed to be kept under some degree of temperature, but lamented that the health personnel hide them in their bags, thus reducing the efficacy when administered to patients.
“Some nurses have resorted to being pharmacists by selling drugs to patients, it is like a double edged sword, when you push them to the wall, they will let patients die,” Dr Mbiniwaya lamented.
Dr Mbiniwaya praised Ms Helena Hoek, a Dutch, who was touched by the plight of the hospital while on internship at the hospital, recently donated hospital equipment to the hospital to help improve maternal healthcare in the metropolis.
The Tamale Central Hospital was established in the early 1920s to cater for the needs of the northern territory but was abandoned, and the need arose to revamp it after the Tamale Hospital was upgraded to a teaching hospital.
The central hospital has a catchment population of more than 30,000 people within the Tamale metropolis with monthly Out Patient Department of 3,000 attendance.
Dilapidated structures, lack of medical equipment and dusty roads in the yard are the bane of the hospital.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman