Health Minister laments extortion from national health insurance subscribers

The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has called for an end to the extortion of money from national health insurance subscribers by some health service providers in the country.

A cross-section of the senior managers at the meeting
A cross-section of the senior managers at the meeting

Describing the situation as worrying, he said the practice was undermining the national health insurance scheme, which was introduced to cushion poor patients from the harsh “cash and carry” service.

Citing the experiences of some pregnant women who underwent Caesarian Section (CS), the Minister said:“It is quite worrying how patients who have subscribed to the health insurance are being treated these days to the extent that even in terms of Caesarian Section, people are paying more than GH¢1,000 from their pockets in quite a number of facilities when that is on the health insurance benefit package.

“It looks like the health insurance scheme is no more working in the country, and this is a very sad situation. Why should you extort from the very core poor patients?”
Mr Agyeman-Manu was addressing the opening of a three-day 2023 First Senior Managers’ Meeting of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), which was on the theme; ‘Enhancing Public Health Care(PHC) Approaches Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage.’

Some of the issues to be discussed at the meeting were ‘Improving referrals in PHC’, ‘Moving patients for emergency care’ and ‘Telemedicine in primary care.’
Although he admitted that there were some delays in payments to the health facilities, he said that should not be the basis to extort money from poor patients.

He pleaded with the service providers to do all they should to save the poor patients in the country, explaining that “there are things that can easily be done in the health insurance system. Let us do them to save and support our brothers and sisters.”

Mr Agyeman-Manu further expressed concern about the issue of fake medication and falsified drugs in some of the facilities, mentioning that oxytocin(a drug used to stop what happens after delivery) was one of the commonest.

He said the Food and Drugs Authority had picked up some of the health facilities engaged in such acts and would soon come out with the names to shame them.

“What could be the motivation for one to take fake medication into our own health facilities? I appeal to the GHS to sit up to check the menace,” he said.

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye,Director General of the GHS, pointed out the consistent improvement in the health of children under five years who had received vitamin A and being regularly breast-fed.

On the new mosquito vector, he said there were efforts to improve the country’s laboratories and human capacities, community engagement and sensitisation to fight it.


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