Health Minister Nominee, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, believes that more substantive parameters, beyond membership figures, should be used to assess the effectiveness of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The NHIS has a utilization rate of about 33 million, and a membership of 11 million persons as pointed out by a member of Parliament’s Appointments Committee, but Mr. Agyemang-Manu stressed that, the mandate of the NHIS stretched beyond membership.
The NHIA was not established to register members; so we don’t assess the activeness of the NHIA with membership numbers. We established NHIS with the objective to provide affordable accessible healthcare to the people.”
The Health Minister-nominee argued that, the quality of facilities and access to free medication were some of the indicators that could be used to effectively assess utilization.
“So if you are delivering healthcare, you are not just looking at OPD attendance because if people go and they make them pay, it is looked at as attendance.
If you are talking about claims and they are not complaining; these are some of the things we can use as parameters,” Mr. Agyemang-Manu explained.
The New Patriotic Party in its 2016 manifesto held the view that the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration, had collapsed the NHIS over the past eight years.
Mr. Agyemang-Manu admitted that, the use of “collapsing might be a harsh word” adding that, “I wouldn’t have, if I was writing the portion of a manifesto, used collapsed, because at least there is a presence of it and people are registering.”
But he noted that, the general sentiments of people on the scheme he had encountered, was that it had collapsed because, “the bottom line is that when people go and they ask them to come and buy their own drugs, they come home and tell us MPs the thing has collapsed.”
He also advised that discussions on the NHIS be devoid of partisan inclinations.
“This is an area where we have to take away some level of politics because together, the two sides, we are representing the people of this country… whoever makes it work, it is a credit to him, but we are all benefiting and that is why I say that let us face facts and let us take away the politics out of health insurance.”