The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has announced the inclusion of four childhood cancers in the benefit package of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The diseases, whose treatment under the NHISis to roll out soon, are Neuroblastoma (childhood cancer of the jaw and abdomen), Leukaemia(childhood cancer of the blood), Retinoblastoma(childhood cancer of the eye) and WilmsTumour (childhood cancer of the kidney).
The scheme, introduced by the government in 2003, is a social intervention programme to provide financial access to quality healthcare for Ghanaians, majority of whom were hitherto either being denied or avoiding it themselves due to poverty.
It is funded by the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL), which is 2.5% levy on goods and services collected under the Value Added Tax (VAT); .2.5 percentage points of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions per month; returns on National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) investments; and premium paid by informal sector subscribers, with government allocations complementing the funding.
Details of the scheme show that treatment under it excludes some diseases, including the childhood cancers.
Therefore, the inclusion of these cancers marks yet another instance of improvement in the NHIS since its inception.
And this particular case is very important because it takes the financial burden off the heads of parents and others who pay for the treatment of these cancers among children.
This is also a good initiative because it would encourage families to send children suffering from childhood cancers to seek treatment rather than keeping them at home, thereby allowing the diseases to get worse.
This will, in the end, bring relief to the children because the experts say if these diseases are curable if detected early.
To this end, the Ghanaian Times appeals to the country’s health authorities to initiate a programme to educate the public about the symptoms of these diseases and encourage parents and guardians to seek early treatment for children suffering them and probably other such diseases.
From all indications, cancers call for specialist treatment at particular health facilities, so it comes as a sadcommentary that the NHIA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ghana Health Service (GHS), is now in the process of identifying health facilities that have the capacity to treat the diseases.
However, the Ghanaian Times thinks the effort is yet commendable once it has been initiated and also that it can never be too late to identify the relevant health facilities and even recommend for the establishment of more across the country in order not to deny some children this important treatment because of where they live.
It is very regrettable, for example, to learn from the NHIA that cancers are not that easily treated and that for the specialist or technical nature of the treatment facilities, it is not easy to pin-point whether there are any such facilities in the Upper East Region.
Children are the future of every country, Ghana not being an exception, as they are to grow and take over its survival and development and ensure its population would live prosperous lives.
This being the case, Ghana cannot afford to ignore the wellbeing and welfare of its children.
Therefore, the NHIA should sustain its efforts in childhood cancer treatment because the benefits are enormous for the country.