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NewsStop diverting funds allocated to NHIA to Consolidated Fund - Gov't told

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Stop diverting funds allocated to NHIA to Consolidated Fund – Gov’t told

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A Pharmacist and Research Fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Kwame Sarpong Asiedu, has warned the Akufo-Addo government about the imminent danger of continuing to divert funds allocated to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) into the consolidated fund.

In an interview on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Asiedu stated that this diversion threatens the sustainability of healthcare services in Ghana, as hospitals require these funds to operate effectively.

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“We know from parliamentary documents that they [NHIA] had only 6% of releases in a particular year. We also know that this government has capped the funding they can receive even though citizens are making the statutory payment. When you go and buy anything, you pay for your NHIS levy among the taxes but they are not receiving the money so they also can’t pay.

“Our health system is 75 to 80% dependent on forex because a lot of the consumables are imported whether they are being used in hospitals, pharmacies, and medical laboratories. So they are losing money, because if you’ve not been paid since October of last year what was the dollar then and what is the dollar now? The true value of whatever service you [hospitals] gave has reduced,” he said on Wednesday.

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Mr. Asiedu further indicated that this financial strain on health facilities threatens Ghana’s commitment to achieving universal health coverage by 2030, a key component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He warned that health facilities may be compelled to refuse patients who present NHIA cards, instead requiring upfront payment before providing care. Asiedu believes this move would undermine the efforts invested in attaining universal health coverage.

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“Ghana has signed up to provide universal health coverage to all citizens by 2030 as part of the SDG. The key thing about this universal health coverage is that finance should not be a barrier to the obtaining of healthcare. It doesn’t mean that healthcare shouldn’t be paid for, but it means, at the point of need, you shouldn’t be denied access because of lack of funds.

“So the worst case scenario is that Ghana wouldn’t be able to achieve this goal because that fundamental requirement that money should not be a barrier is not being met. So, basically we are paying lip service. With the way things are going with the NHIS, in a while, you’ll go to private hospitals and healthcare providers won’t be able to provide healthcare when you come with NHIA card,” he projected.

The CDD-Ghana fellow also noted that citizens’ plight would worsen, given the current high inflation and cedi depreciation, if they are forced to resort to out-of-pocket payments for healthcare.

Mr. Asiedu called for an immediate cessation of the fund capping, arguing that the government should prioritize healthcare funding over the consolidated fund, especially in an election year.

“Government has been collecting the NHIS taxes. This has nothing to do with the IMF because when we buy something, we pay the NHIS tax, so all what government needs to do is to send the money back to where it belongs which is the NHIA.

“Give the money back to NHIA so that they can use it to do what they are supposed to. It is a very easy fix, but the complication is that, if they do that there will be a massive hole in the consolidated fund and they are prioritising the consolidated fund in an election year at the expense of our health and expected life span.”

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