An Eye Specialist, Dr Thomas Tontie Baah, has appeal to the government to increase the tariffs it pays for cataract surgery under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to expand access to the operations.
He said many health facilities viewed the GH¢350 paid for cataract surgery under the NHIS as “low” and were unwilling to offer such service.
Dr Baah, who is the Medical Director Save the Nations Sight Clinic made the appeal on Tuesday when the Ghana Association of former International Civil Servants (GAFICS), led by its President, Kwaku Osie Bonsu, presented a cheque for $2,100 dollars for 30 needy patients to undergo cataract surgery .
The GAFICS, made up of retired Ghanaian experts who had served with the United Nations and its specialised agencies, accepted proposal from the clinic to fund the cost of the surgery, under its Special Project Fund intended to give back to society.
Save the Nation’s Sight Clinic since its establishment 12 year ago had been in the forefront in the fight against needless blindness, especially among rural and urban poor.
Records showed that last year, the clinic performed 1,122 eye operations, 875 were cataract operations carried out to restore the sight of patients who could have possibly gone blind.
Dr Baah explained that between 2007 and 2008 the NHIA paid GH¢101.4 for the cost of cataract when the Ghana one cedi was equivalent to one dollar.
“The tariff for cataract surgery in 2007 and 2008 was about $100 dollars. At present the NHIA pays about 350 for cataract surgery which we all know cannot buy $50 in the open market,” he said.
“Since the introduction of the NHIA 15 years ago, the cost of cataract surgery in US dollars has steadily declined to less than half of its origin figure.
“No wonder that many private clinics do not accept the NHIA for cataract surgery. Those who do find other ways to balance the equation,” he added.
Dr Baah commended GAFICS and Latter Day Saints Charity for supporting the clinic to carry out cataract surgeries for the vulnerable, while paying glowing tribute to renowned Obstetrician/Gynecologist Professor Sydney Adadevoh and others for their contribution to his study of medicine at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology 41 years ago.
Professor Mahama Duweijua, former Executive Secretary Council for Tertiary Education, who chaired the function commended Dr Baah for helping to provide healthcare, especially eye care to the rural and urban poor.
BY SALIFU ABDUL-RAHAMAN