The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Virginia Evelyn Palmer has called on government and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to promptly redeem debts owed the Upper West Regional Medical Stores to enable it operate efficiently.
She mentioned that even though, the region was blessed with a medical store, it would be rendered redundant if it was not operating at full capacity due to irregular payment of debts to acquire more medicine for health facilities in the region.
The Ambassador made the call during an interview with the media on Thursday after she toured the medical store and interacted with staff at the facility as well as the Regional Health Director, Dr Damien Punguyire as part of a working visit to the region.
Concerns was raised by DrPunguyire in his speech about the indebtedness of the NHIA to the facility which according to him had affected operations of the facility and caused shortage of basic drugs needed by residents for treatment.
Ms Palmer believed that the irregular debt redemption appeared prevalent among medical stores located in regions that were distant from the nation’s capital, Accra.
“The biggest challenge is the payment of arrears and the payment lag is larger in areas far away from Accra; it is very important that the government and the NHIA pay the bills so that stores like these ones can pay their suppliers and continue to keep basic medicines available for residents,” she said.
She described the facility as beautiful but said it would remain limited in the supply of basic vaccines and drugs for conditions such as Tuberculosis, malaria, among others if their debts were not redeemed regularly by the NHIA.
Earlier in the interaction with the Ambassador, DrPunguyire explained how the irregular payment of debts owed the medical facility had limited its functionality and appealed for the timely redemption of claims to enable the stores pay its suppliers for more drugs.
“Financial challenges due to the NHIS erratic reimbursements is a serious threat to the sustainability of the medical store; there is an urgent need for recapitalisation to put this place back in shape and we would also appreciate any financial support or bail out to revamp the operations of th medical store and make it more sustainable” he said.
He lauded the US government for supporting health services in the region through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in funding the Global Health Supply Chain Programme which supported the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ghana Health Service (GHS) to ensure uninterrupted supply of health commodities to clients in health facilities in Ghana.
“The region also acknowledges the donation of critical health commodities such as the antiretroviral for HIV patients, anti-malaria commodities including mosquito nets, contraceptives for family planning as well as Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines to counter the COVID-19 infection,” he added.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA